THE Verde Recreo Men’s Hockey League fixtures are to remain unchanged for now, despite the sport’s suspension during the current national lockdown period, with matches set to resume on December 5.

This announcement follows a meeting of the league committee last Wednesday (November 18) to discuss the potential impact of the lockdown and possible restrictions in England and Wales going forward.

In its statement, the committee said its members are “committed to finding a balance that ensures the maximum amount of league hockey is played, while a level of integrity that is expected from a league competition is retained”.

In order for the season to be valid, 50 per cent of fixtures must be completed, and every team must play every other team in their division at least once.

The statement adds: “While it is widely recognised by committee that there is already a high chance the original full league programme will not be completed, it is still felt that for now the best course of action is to continue with the programme as it currently stands.

“This means that with the exception of those league games which have currently been voided (fixtures involving Welsh teams) all current unplayed fixtures will be marked as ‘postponed’ with the intention that they are re-arranged.

“Clubs are encouraged to get as many games played as possible whilst restrictions on society allow.

“The league committee is scheduled to meet again in mid-January and it is at this point a full review of the current fixture list will be undertaken to determine if by that point there is realistic prospect of the full fixture programme being completed to a degree that the two conditions are met (using a ‘points per game’ methodology to determine final positions), or if an alternative approach needs to be adopted.

“If it is deemed that the two conditions cannot be met, then one option under consideration at this stage could be to revert to a ‘half season’ whereby teams play everyone once within a division.

“Equally, at this point a decision would have to be taken as to how those fixtures already played are dealt with i.e. do they form part of the half season or are they voided and divisions are re-set entirely.

“As such, if lockdown in England does end as scheduled on December 2 and England Hockey swiftly allows a return to competitive hockey, the league programme will restart on December 5.

“If England Hockey does not allow games to be played by this point, and/or any areas of the country still have restrictions imposed meaning hockey cannot take place, then for now fixtures will continue to be marked as postponed.

“While many clubs and teams will be eager to get back and play on December 5, the committee also recognises that for others it may not be possible to, within circa 48 hours, be in a position to play a league game - whether that be due to player, pitch or umpire availability.

“If a club finds itself in this position they must contact their area secretary to request a postponement. The request will be viewed favourably.”