BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Tooting & Mitcham joint-manager Cornelius Nwadialor fears irreparable harm if their Isthmian League South Central Division campaign is scrapped for a second successive season.
The Football Association are in the process of surveying non-league clubs to gauge their views on what should happen next – with the Covid-19 pandemic once again playing havoc with the fixture schedule.
The Terrors are fourth in the table but have played just seven matches. Their last competitive fixture was a 2-0 loss to Bognor Regis Town in the FA Trophy at the end of October.
Tooting were eighth in the 2019-20 campaign – with 11 fixtures left to play – when that season was aborted.
There seems little dispute that the present season cannot be completed in terms of fulfilling all the remaining matches. The question is what comes next.
Nwadialor said: “A lot of clubs have lost a lot of revenue and are waiting to see if the FA will give them a grant.
“They offered clubs from step three to six a loan. But they gave a grant to the Conference clubs. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense – none of the teams at this level would be able to take a loan and pay it back.
“They sent out a survey to see what clubs wanted to do – whether to null the league or do a different type of format, or maybe merge last season with this season.
“My personal view is that it will be detrimental to the league and our level if we null the league again. That would be two in a row – no sponsors will want to be involved and you’ve lost the revenue from season-ticket holders. At this level there is no way back from that.
“The reason the league was nulled last season is because we didn’t know what the leagues above were going to do – if there was no promotion or relegation then it was kind of pointless.
“We know the football can be competitive.
“It’s not a selfish view. I’ve spoken to a lot of my players and ones at other clubs as well as fans – it is a mental thing. Football is a lot of peoples’ lives if we can come and play safely.
“They’ve already extended the league until the end of May and if we come out of lockdown in March then we can probably have a format where we play until mid-May and do some kind of play-offs.
“The easiest thing is to null the league, but I just think it is so detrimental to the league. The young talent is not going to bother and the sponsors won’t bother as well if clubs just pie it off.
“I’m not sure you’ll see the league coming back to the glory days if it is voided. The pro leagues have shown there is a way to still play some competitive football.
“I think by the end of the month we could get some answers about where things are going. But it is not just up to the clubs. The leagues have done this survey to see where all of our minds are at. But it is still up to the FA – if they say the seasons are nulled then there isn’t anything we can do about it.”
PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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