Confusion reigns with National League holding up final decision on non-league conclusion

PUBLISHED: 17:38 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:38 24 March 2020

Colney Heath and London Colney are just two of the teams awaiting the final non-league decision for this season. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Colney Heath and London Colney are just two of the teams awaiting the final non-league decision for this season. Picture: KARYN HADDON

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Blame it on the confined participants, blame it on mixed messages, blame it on the boogie if you want to but it appears despite an hour of confusion the non-league season is officially over.

Social media flared into a mass of activity after tweets from the step five Essex Senior League said that they had been instructed by the FA that their season was finished because of the coronavirus.

It was a stance seemingly backed up by the United Counties League who also had documentation on Twitter saying the 2019-2020 season was done.

But then an e-mail came into view from the FA saying it the meeting with step five and six leagues “was to listen to their views” and “no decision is to be communicated at this point”.

The tweets were then subsequently removed with clubs, players and supporters in the dark as to what was actually happening.

However a statement from Nick Robinson, chairman of the step three and four Isthmian League, has cleared a lot of the misunderstanding up.

In it he said it is the will of all leagues from step three down to end the season as it is as “clubs do not have the financial resources to continue to honour player contracts indefinitely”.

The hold up is with the National League who do want to finish the season.

However, the Isthmian League says that in order to “maintain the integrity of our competitions we ideally need to apply one solution across the whole of the National League System”.

Until all leagues are in agreement, no decision can be made on what to do with the competition.

The Isthmian statement admitted there was other matters discussed but the main and most interesting points were in relation to how the season should end.

It said: “The Alliance Leagues held the latest of several conference calls last night (Monday) after our own board, and those of the Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, met over the weekend to determine how we wish to proceed.

“We have also participated in calls with the step five and six clubs.

“The step three and four 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 five and six 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 three and four 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 2019-20 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.

“Finally, at this very difficult time, I hope that you and your families will stay safe.”


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