Devon FA chief executive officer (CEO) Paul Morrison believes flexibility and safety are the keys to success as football nears a return, writes Ollie Young.

The governing body will not be taking a blanket approach when deciding which leagues return and when.

The responsibility will ultimately lie with the leagues to decide when they begin but collaboration between the leagues and the clubs will be hugely important in making decisions.

Speaking exclusively to The Independent, Morrison said: “It will be a mixture of what the leagues want to do, what the clubs want and what the leagues can offer the clubs. The leagues probably will all start at different times and that is absolutely fine with us, we are going to be as flexible as possible. As long as we start football in all areas of the county by September, October or November, I will be chuffed to bits.”

Morrison is, however, concerned about the finances involved with resuming football without supporters present. At this moment in time, Football Association guidelines state that leagues can resume in September but it is dependent on government updates whether fans will be allowed to attend those games.

When The Independent put it to the Devon FA top brass that the return of football may not realistically happen until supporters can attend games, he agreed entirely.

“Clubs rely on people coming through the turnstiles, buying teas and coffees and using the burger fans to generate their incomes,” remarked the CEO. “I am also not so sure that players will be wanting to play at empty grounds. The balance needs to be struck between making sure everything is safe but also making sure that economically it makes sense for all involved.”

Morrison was also keen to note that the Devon FA will not make teams play, if they are not comfortable to do so.

He added: “I am not in a rush to get this over the line, we just want it to be safe. We have to be flexible in everything we do. We are encouraging clubs to do risk assessments and we are happy to help but we absolutely will not force anyone to play if there are any psychological worries surrounding Covid-19.”

Morrison confirmed to The Independent that the outstanding county cup fixtures will hopefully be held throughout August.

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.