Mid Coast are in a "wait and watch" holding pattern after new NSW Health rules has denied inter-region travel for sport. Image via Chris Stephens/NNSWF.

Mid Coast FC has been temporarily stood down from playing in all Northern NSW Football competitions, including the Women’s Premier League, following new NSW Health rules regarding community sport during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Matches involving the Mid Coast teams this weekend have been postponed, and NNSWF have confirmed more information will be made available from early next week.

Northern NSW chief executive David Eland admitted it was “an unfortunate disruption for all competitions,” but one that is necessary to assist NSW Health in minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmissions across the Hunter region and beyond.

Mid Coast has already informed all teams involved in the Premier League system. The club was scheduled to face Warners Bay at John Street Oval across four Sunday fixtures.

The Taree-based club has conceded the suspension of participation is “of course, in the best interests of the regions” in regards to COVID-19, but WPL coach Mick Grass admitted it was “more than a little disappointing” to be stood down indefinitely.

The Middies’ top-grade side, who were handed the wooden spoon in 2019 thanks to a lower goal difference, has enjoyed a decent start to their 2020 campaign.

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The team won three in a row post-break, beating out Thornton (5–2), New Lambton (3–0), and Adamstown (4–2). The past two weeks have seen them fall to heavyweight contenders Broadmeadow and Newcastle, who lead the league.

Middies are three points outside the top four at the moment, with a game in-hand.

Middies’ 3–4 record had put them on nine points heading into round nine. The squad was trailing three points behind Warners Bay (fourth), but a game in hand could have seen them slice that margin to zero in the coming weeks.

“We had a poor performance against Olympic on the weekend, but the month before that has been really positive so it’s disappointing to feel that we may not get to fulfill the promise of what we’ve started, but we never know,” he told the Chronicle.

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“The teams will stick together for the time being and continue to train in the hope that we will be able to come back and play. We will find a way to continue on in some way.”

Northern NSW Football has submitted an appeal to allow Mid Coast, as well as all teams from the Northern Inland, Mid North Coast, and North Coast regions, the chance to play out the 2020 season. That application is currently pending.

Mick Grass hopes Mid Coast can be welcomed back “as soon as possible.”

If successful, Middies could return to the fold in the coming weeks, and play out their remaining Women’s Premier League fixtures in a “sprint to the finish” ahead of finals.

“It really just depends how long it takes, I’d say. If it’s in a week, great, we come back with just one catchup game. If it’s three, or four? We’re starting to look at half the season being played out in a week or two, and that’s hard,” Grass said.

“We still want to be involved. We will abide by what has been put in place, of course, NSW Health knows what needs to be done. The team wants to come back though, and it’s just a waiting game at the moment. Fingers crossed the meetings bare fruit.”