What next now that Non-League Football has been cancelled
Is this a sign of things to come as all Non-League Football below the National League has had an early end to the season.
The Football Association this week took the decision to cancel the seasons of all football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League. The seasons will now end immediately, and all results will be expunged. This of course means there will be no promotion or relegation in these leagues. This action has been taken due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, which has completely decimated the sporting calendar.
However, some teams already achieved promotion in the leagues affected, and the Football Association now faces the threat of legal action from those clubs. Defending its decision, the F.A said in a statement “These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game. Today’s steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, whilst considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided, with the integrity of the leagues in mind.“
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The decision applies to steps three to seven in men’s non-league football which contains 91 leagues. All grassroots seasons have now also finished.
Heartbreak for Clubs
Vauxhall Motors and Jersey Bulls has already gained promotion to step five of the non-league pyramid, but that will now not happen. The results being expunged will hurt in particular for Jersey Bulls had won all 27 of their matches in the Combined Counties Football League Division One and were 20 points clear at the top.
South Shields are also extremely upset with this news. They play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division and were 13 points clear of second and all set to win promotion. Their chairman Geoff Thompson took to Twitter to voice his anger, stating “SSFC will be writing to the FA in the strongest possible terms and will seek an appeal or will take legal action. “Whatever the outcome following this appalling decision the club will continue as before. However, there is no denying this decision has a huge financial impact”.
“We have invested heavily this year in a host of areas and the loss of promotion will also affect some of our revenue assumptions for next season. My message to all our SSFC fans and sponsors is – sorry a huge disappointment and we’ve all been badly let down.”
The FA remains hopeful that the men’s and women’s FA Cup, the FA Trophy and the FA Vase can all be completed.
A sign of things to come?
It is becoming clear that the Coronavirus crisis is going to have a massive financial impact on a lot of football league clubs, and even a few in the Premier League. The longer we go without fixtures and vital match day income, the worse off clubs become.
There will be a meeting between various football bodies to discuss the financial impact on the game imminently, as clubs such as Birmingham ask their players to take wage cuts so they can keep paying non-playing and coaching staff their wages.
It is too soon to determine if the National League, the EFL and the Premier League will go the same way as the non-league seasons and be cancelled. Of course, the higher up you go the more complicated it becomes, essentially due to the vast amounts of money at the top end of the game. Initial hopes of things restarting by April 30 seemed overly optimistic, and it is expected a statement next week will confirm a further delay.
There is still a great desire from the majority of those involved in the game that the season can come to a natural conclusion. However, as the weeks go by and the Pandemic shows no signs of subsiding, a decision needs to be made sooner rather than later.
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