RHU Amateurs manager Stewart Maule has slammed the inconsistency of the latest government restrictions that have brought football to a halt once again.

Maule’s side had returned to competitive action at the beginning of October before new restrictions quickly brought the campaign to a stop for the time being.

Government guidelines have banned adult football from taking place in the five central belt health board areas – Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley, Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Lanarkshire, and Lothian – but as the Helensburgh area, in common with the rest of Argyll and Bute, falls under the auspices of NHS Highland health board, football is able to continue.

Unfortunately for Rhu, many of their squad, and their league opponents, come from those areas in which individuals have also been instructed not to travel outwith their own area for training or matches.

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The challenge facing the local side was illustrated when a Rhu squad significantly below what Maule and his coaching colleagues would consider to be full strength lost 5-2 in a friendly match away to Dunoon Amateurs.

Speaking to the Advertiser this week, Maule emphasised that his side will continue to follow the government’s guidelines – no matter how infuriating they may seem.

He said: “People from the restricted areas travel to work in Helensburgh and the surrounding area every single day. We have players who can’t train with us outside at Hermitage Academy, but could work there during the day.

“Players from restricted areas could drink in the beer gardens, eat in the restaurants and cafes and even stay in the hotels here but couldn’t play 90 minutes of football outside.

“It’s the inconsistency of the message that most of us find confusing and frustrating.

“Having said that, as disappointing and frustrating as it for the season to grind to a halt, everyone needs to be aware of the bigger picture.

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“We will keep doing what we are doing, keep following the guidelines, and then, hopefully, be in decent shape to restart the league again.”

A statement from the Scottish Amateur FA this week urged the Scottish Government to consider the mental health aspect of playing football and called on clubs to get in touch with their MSPs and take action.

They said: “No part of our lives at this time can be completely protected from Covid-19.

“However, guided by the Scottish FA and Sportscotland, we have worked hard to implement strict protocols to ensure our outdoor contact sport is a low risk environment regarding coronavirus transmission.

“The Scottish Government are also aware of the benefits of recreational football in terms of the mental health and physical wellbeing of the players.

“Going forward, these must be considered seriously against the potential of virus transmission when assessing the restrictions at each level of the new tiered system.

“We have now asked that when deciding the restrictions to be imposed at each level of the new tiered system, the Scottish Government considers thoughtfully the benefits of adult recreational football against the impact of continuing to stop the game in pursuit of virus suppression.

“We now encourage everyone involved in adult recreational football to contact their MSP to obtain urgent assurance that they will voice their support in Parliament and to the Scottish Government on this matter.”

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