The Greater Manchester Cricket League has confirmed that the start to the 2020 season will be postponed.
The season was meant to begin on Saturday, April 18, but following the Coronavirus outbreak league officials believe the season won't begin until the end of May at the very earliest.
A statement read:
Following yesterdays Government statement we have had to consider whether our game is a necessary gathering in the current situation and because it is clear to everyone that the situation will worsen before there is any improvement, we have made the decision that the GMCL season will not commence on the 18th April 2020. This position will be reviewed at regular intervals, but in order to give you some timescale we believe we are unlikely to restart before the end of May 2020. The junior programme will also be delayed. We hope this means that you can prevent gatherings of players and officials at this difficult time and help everyone at your clubs stay healthy.
When, or if, the season gets underway at some point we will find an alternative meaningful competition offering clubs that can and wish to play the opportunity to do so with no penalty to those that are unable to play. This meaningful competition for whatever time we have available and any restrictions that maybe in place, would influence the type of competition we offer. This decision will result in the 2021 league season beginning with everyone in the same division as they were due to start in for 2020. The League will consider what action to take in the event that the League accepts any new clubs from season 2021.
Setting out our plans in this way means we are able to take into account the many factors affecting players and officials, primarily those at highest risk and those that do not want to play or cannot play for a wide variety of reasons such as those caring for relatives who cannot be exposed to a number of people.
We recognise cancellation of games will have a heavy financial impact on clubs, and this is the main reason we have been hanging on to the hope that we could play. The financial impact will primarily come from lack of bar income and social or fundraising events that most of our clubs rely on and because such events have effectively been banned by government instruction today, this has been taken out of our hands. Agreements with sponsors, advertisers, overseas and professional players will all have to be re-evaluated and hopefully deferred to when we can play. With South Africa already cancelling all outbound flights, other countries are expected to follow suit and all clubs would probably have to play without overseas players.
We are hugely disappointed that it has come to this but this once in a lifetime event has hit sport across the globe and we unanimously believe we are doing the right thing to help battle this life-threatening virus.
We will continue to issue regular updates but, in the meantime, please follow all the health guidelines on washing away this virus and minimising contact with others to prevent sharing within your club. Please remember you may be carrying the virus and not have the symptoms; following the guidelines helps reduce the threat to members of our society most at risk and prevents the spread to your family, your friends and your teammates.
Best wishes and keep safe.