IT WAS the announcement Isle of Wight sports lovers wanted and needed to hear from Boris Johnson — the return of outdoor activity — and it's one Island clubs are delighted with, as we exit a devastating winter.

The PM’s plan to lift the coronavirus lockdown from March 29 will see outdoor sports — including football, golf and tennis — resume in England, subject to guidance being considered by various national sporting bodies.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The roadmap will also see leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools permitted to reopen from April 12 and indoor sport from May 17.

Venues such as gyms, tennis courts and golf courses have been closed across England since lockdown was announced on January 4.

Isle of Wight County Press:

For football clubs on the Island, the Saturday League is poised to announce a restart, pending FA guidance and a vote on options on where the season goes from here.

However, the news was not so good for Newport, Cowes and East Cowes Vics, as the Sydenhams Wessex League on Wednesday curtailed the league.

They will not now play any more league football until the 2021-22 season.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The FA said the 2020-21 grassroots season has been extended until the end of June to provide additional flexibility and time for leagues to complete their fixtures.

IW Divisional Football Association chairman, Geoff Ruck, was upbeat about the prospect of a resumption.

“We’re pleased we can once again look forward to football returning on the Island before too long,” he said.

“Once the FA has considered the effects on grassroots football and have passed on their guidance, the Saturday League’s management committee will produce an action plan on starting and finishing the season. Clubs will then vote on whether or not to accept it.

“There are many issues for consideration, such as pitch availability, changing room access and whether spectators and catering will be permitted.

“Having come this far, it is important to ensure the players, officials and supporters are kept safe.”

However, for clubs in steps 3-6 of the football pyramid, which includes the three Wessex League sides — Cowes Sports, Newport and East Cowes — the situation is more complicated.

Clubs are saying competitive non-league football to be financially viable, fans need to return — ideally with their clubhouses open.

But the new rules on fans and hospitality are unclear, and could prove significant obstacles for any possible restart of football at steps 3-6.

Isle of Wight County Press:

While England Golf expressed huge disappointment at a start date no sooner than March 29, many hundreds of golfers on the Island are over the moon at the prospect of getting back on a course.

Ryde Golf Club president, Mick Timms, said: “For all our members, it really can’t come quick enough. That being said, I’m hopeful we all act responsibly. The last thing we need is for the virus to get out of control again.

“With the course recovering following extremely wet and unplayable weather this past three months, it will be a welcoming sight for all us golfers.”

Mark Wright, proprietor of Westridge Golf Centre, said: “Although I did expect an earlier start date, it hopefully sets us all up for a full season.

“Everything I’m hearing from within the industry is for another bumper season.”

Tennis clubs will be welcoming players of all ages back onto their courts this spring.

David Fothergill, of Ryde Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, said: “Three days before our spring season is due to start, club members will be back playing under Covid rules.”