BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Tooting & Mitcham United, Cray Valley PM and a host of our SCEFL clubs have all voted for the 2019-20 season to be terminated due to the coronavirus pandemic – but there are claims that the desire of National League sides to complete their campaigns is slowing down a decision.
Isthmian League chair Nick Robinson released a statement yesterday in which he outlined the stance of clubs from step 3 to step 6 of non-league football.
Robinson wrote: “The step 3 and 4 leagues share clubs’ frustration that it is taking so long to determine whether the 2019-20 season is to end now, and if so on what basis.
“To maintain the integrity of our competitions, we ideally need to apply one solution across the whole of the National League System. However, this may not be possible.
“The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019-20 season immediately. The step 5/6 leagues also support the immediate termination of the season.
“Whether that is done on the basis of determining final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null and void cannot be determined until the National League decides how it wishes to proceed.
“Right now, the National League’s position is that they wish to be able to resume the 2019-20 season at some point. The feeder leagues do not support this because our clubs do not have the financial resources to continue to honour player contracts indefinitely.
“The step 3 and 4 leagues have therefore commenced the process to terminate the season. This has to be ratified by the FA Council, so there may be a short delay as the relevant documentation is submitted, distributed and approved.
“Whilst this process is on-going, and once the National League has finalised how it wishes to proceed, competition issues can then be decided, together with the implications for promotion and relegation.
“As soon as the National League’s position is finalised, we will be able to confirm the basis on which the 2019-20 season has ended. As I have already pointed out, we need as much commonality across the National League System as possible.
“The FA is currently reviewing its rules to understand whether any emergency changes are required for season 2019-2020 which impact on player contracts, registration deadlines and retention/offers of re-engagement in the National League System. Given the fast-moving nature of the existing situation this work is ongoing.”
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