THE Government has cleared non-elite football clubs to compete in the FA Cup this weekend despite new lockdown restrictions, but has resisted calls to keep golf courses and tennis courts open.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out the terms for a second national lockdown over the weekend amid fears that a second wave of coronavirus cases would otherwise overwhelm the NHS this winter.

Grassroots sport will be forced to stop during the initial month-long period which starts on Thursday, placing a question mark on whether FA Cup first-round ties involving 10 non-elite clubs could go ahead.

However, the Football Association said on Monday that the matches would go ahead under elite protocols,  meaning Canvey Island's trip to Banbury United can still go ahead.

“We can confirm that all Emirates FA Cup first-round ties will go ahead this weekend as planned,” a statement from the governing body read.

“The UK Government has confirmed that the 10 non-elite clubs that remain in the competition will be able to play their matches under elite protocols.

“Matches will take place between November 6 and 9 2020. All ties will be played behind closed doors, in line with COVID-19 guidelines.”

The FA confirmed the draws for the next rounds of the FA Trophy and FA Vase have also taken place, but no dates have been fixed.

“We remain in dialogue with the UK Government in relation to men’s ‘non-elite’ football in England and will release the fixture dates for both the Trophy and the Vase in due course,” a further FA update read.

There had been calls from the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee Julian Knight for a rethink on the closure of golf courses and tennis clubs, but the Government is sticking to its plans.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said on Monday that guidance sets out that individuals can exercise in a public space with one other person or with someone from their own household.

“It’s not the intention, however, for tennis courts or for golf courses to remain open,” he said.

Pressed why the Government is shutting them, he said: “People are able to use public spaces or walk or run in the park.

“The purpose of the tougher regulations, which I expect are going to be difficult for very many people, are to significantly reduce social contact.”