Bury Town chairman Ward does not want to see two seasons ‘messed up’
PUBLISHED: 16:35 20 March 2020
Bury Town chairman, Russell Ward, believes that it might ultimately be best to look towards starting next season on time, rather than trying to eventually complete all matches from the current, frozen season.
The Blues, before the impact of the Coronavirus outbreak took hold and forced the postponement of recent matches, were having a very successful campaign in the Isthmian League North.
The Ram Meadow club have been in the top five for virtually the whole season, having led the division for a while, and are currently lying in fourth spot, with nine matches still to be played.
But although his club are in the thick of the promotion race, Ward is of the opinion that the consideration of also having to prepare the pitch for the next season – which usually takes at least eight weeks – needs to be taken into account.
There is a possibility that a final league table could be worked out, based on a points-to-games ratio, which would see Bury narrowly miss out on a play-off place.
But as yet, it is a wait-and-see situation.
All non-league clubs, just like all those in the higher levels of the professional game, are in limbo at the moment.
Ward explained: “We have not done anything yet. We are waiting to hear a further statement from the Isthmian League.
“There’s been a statement about professional football (all games at the elite end of the game will be postponed until at least April 30, including the Premier League and EFL), but we have not heard an update from the Isthmian League since last week.
“I can’t see football starting again by April 30, and in fact I can’t see our season even starting again.
“They might just decide to have no promotion or play-offs, or they might decide to work out the play-off teams on a points-per-game basis from all of the matches played so far.
“In that case, it has been worked out that we would just miss out (on the play-offs) by dint of conceding that late goal in our last match against Hullbridge Sports (2-2 home draw on March 7).
“That would be a big shame for the club, obviously, having had such a terrific season to date, but it’s all up in the air at the moment.
“Personally, I think if we did finally end up restarting this season, then it would probably have an impact on the following season as well, which would mean messing up two seasons.
“The country is in a grip at the moment, and it shows no signs of slowing down, but if we end up just missing out on the play-offs, on a points-per-game ratio, then so be it. It is what it is,” added Ward.
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In terms of the knock-on effect, with regards club finances due to no matches being played, Ward said: “First and foremost, we would like to know what’s going to happen, as soon as possible, so then we can make a plan.
“We can then get all the players in and discuss things.
“I see some of our fans have already set up a crowd-funding page, to raise money for the club, which is a great gesture.
“But the club is not in a dire situation. We just need to find out the plan for this season and then sit down and talk with the players.
“We were obviously hoping to have a successful season, and then retain most of our players for next season, that was our aim.
“Something is going to have to give, obviously, as with all clubs.
“All clubs have been asked to submit to the FA (Football Association) all their outgoings and incomings, and where they will lose out financially. These have to be submitted by the weekend.
“The FA will then look at that. Loans are OK to ease cash-flow problems, but in the end you have to pay back the loans, as opposed to grants. We are fortunate in that the majority of our staff are part-time, not full-time.
“Personally, I think we need to look towards next season, and so avoid ruining two seasons.
“We’ve played most of our games for this season, but a lot of teams have a lot still to play.
“I don’t want to see this having a knock-on effect on the following season. I’d rather have next season start on time, near enough. That’s my personal opinion.
“There’s also the big problem of how to get the pitch ready for the new season, if we are still playing games into the summer.
“You need at least eight weeks to prepare a pitch for a new season, which usually means the work starts in early May.
“Pitches have to be re-seeded, and the grass has to grow and take roots, which takes time.
“You need the rain, water and sun to get pitches ready, and that means eight weeks bare minimum,” added Ward.
If the final positions for the 2019-20 season were to be calculated on a points-per-games-left ratio, then Bury would almost certainly be placed in sixth spot, missing out on the play-offs on goal difference.