Clubs revolt over decision by authorities to cancel their season
The FA have provoked a revolt by clubs after releasing a statement of intent.
For Newcastle fans it was positive news on Thursday as The FA declared on the FA Cup that they were ‘reviewing all options as we seek to complete these competitions whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so’, the statement (see below) saying that a major factor is that being at the quarter-final stage, there are very few games left to play.
For non-league clubs and women’s football though it was mixed news, The FA saying a solution was still being sought as to how to determine the outcome of the 2019-20 season as quickly as possible for the National League, National League North and National League South, as well as the top two tiers of women’s football.
However, all leagues below those top three men’s non-league divisions and below the top two women’s leagues, are having their results ‘expunged’, so basically as though this season never happened.
Not surprisingly, a lot of non-league clubs were far from happy with this and are organising to try and stop this plan going ahead.
Amongst them are South Shields, they are 12 points clear at the top of the Northern Premier League with only nine games left to play.
Some other clubs have even more reason to be upset if the plan to cancel this season and expunge the results goes ahead. For example, both Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors had already won promotion to step five from their respective leagues due to the points accumulated before football was suspended.
The FA plan is to go ahead and wipe out this season, with no promotion or relegation, even where promotion and/or relegation had already been decided by results.
A report from BBC Sport says that very quickly, over 30 clubs from all areas of the country had ‘voiced their concerns and are willing to challenge the FA.’
There is a glimmer of hope for these and other clubs, as the announced plan still has to be ratified by the FA council, who are meeting this coming week via video conferencing.
Interesting to see what the final outcome is.
The FA Statement – 26 March 2020:
We have been working collaboratively with the National League System (NLS), the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game since the outbreak of COVID-19 on how to conclude the 2019-20 season in the most appropriate way possible.
These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game and in consultation across key stakeholders. Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.
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.
National League System
The NLS and the women’s football pyramid were able to build a consensus amongst their leagues and, where possible, aimed to create a consistent approach across all leagues, whilst taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual league.
As a result, The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two.
These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.
We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.
Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.
Where appropriate, the above decisions will be put to The FA Council for ratification.
Throughout this period we continue to seek guidance in respect of the government’s financial support packages relative to COVID-19 and how they are applicable to clubs in the NLS, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game.
The FA, FA Women’s Board members and the Women’s Football Conference have consulted and reached a consensus regarding the women’s football pyramid.
The FA and the leagues within tiers three to seven have reached a consensus to bring the season to an immediate end and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between tiers three to seven. Agreement has also been reached to end the Regional Talent Clubs season, which was due to conclude in April 2020.
We remain in consultation with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship Board and clubs regarding the most appropriate way to complete the current season, including for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Academy.
With the 2019-20 Emirates FA Cup, Women’s FA Cup, Buildbase FA Trophy and Buildbase FA Vase all at advanced stages, we are reviewing all options as we seek to complete these competitions whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so. Clubs involved are close to reaching a major final and for those clubs and supporters we will do all we can to keep the Wembley dream alive.
In respect of The FA Youth Cup, The FA County Youth Cup, The FA Sunday Cup and The FA Inter-League Cup, we are also seeking to complete these competitions if it is feasible to do so.
We will also continue planning for FA competitions to take place for the 2020-21 season.’
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