Non-league latest: option muted to split divisions in half at Steps 3 & 4, ahead of big night of FA Trophy action

Leiston's last league outing, before the current 'pause,' featured a win over Kings Langley. Here Marcus Wilkinson fires in a...

Leiston's last league outing, before the current 'pause,' featured a win over Kings Langley. Here Marcus Wilkinson fires in a shot. Picture: HANNAH PARNELL - Credit: Archant

Leiston chairman Andy Crisp believes that a viable option, to make sure that Steps 3 and 4 complete their 2020-21 seasons, would be to wipe the slate clean and split the divisions into two halves.

Leiston chairman Andy Crisp, who has revealed an option to re-start the season by splitting divisions in half

Leiston chairman Andy Crisp, who has revealed an option to re-start the season by splitting divisions in half - Credit: Archant

A suggestion that sides would then play each other twice, in mini-leagues, with relegation and promotion still on the table, was muted during last week’s zoom meetings before a vote was taken to continue ‘pausing’ the season.

If Step 3 and Step 4 football does not resume, before the second weekend in January, then Crisp would favour splitting the divisions in half, to cut down on the number of fixtures needed to be played to complete the campaign.

This appears an unlikely option, but perhaps not surprisingly Crisp, with his Leiston club having won only one of their eight league matches, to sit second-from-bottom in the Southern League Premier Central, before the season was suspended when lockdown 2 kicked in on November 5, would not be against a major rethink.

“From our point of view, we are in a different league position to the other Suffolk clubs at Step 3 and Step 4,” explained Crisp.


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“If it happened that it was decided to split the divisions in two, then we would have not so much to lose as most other clubs.

“It’s just an option that has been muted. It was put forward at the recent zoom meeting.

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“Obviously the top teams would not be happy, because they would see their points wiped out. But it’s just an idea that was put out there.

“Nothing has been decided, obviously. It’s just speculation, but there’s no point in having another season without relegation or promotion.

“Another option might be to look at the fixtures that have already taken place, and then try and make sure everyone play each other once, so that 50% of the competition is completed.

“If the league does manage to restart by January 9, or before, then it would be possible to complete the season.

“But any later and you would be looking at 30-odd games having to be played in too short a period, in which case playing half-a-season would seem a possibility.

“Teams at the top would claim this to be unfair, to start the season again, but we are living in unprecedented times.

“The division would be split into two halves of 11, so two mini-leagues, with each team playing each other twice for 20 games in total, with play-offs at the end,” added Crisp.

By contrast to Leiston’s lowly position, fellow Suffolk side Needham Market are flying high in second spot in the same Southern League Premier Central table. Lowestoft are in 14th slot.

And in Step 4’s Isthmian League North, AFC Sudbury (second), Bury Town (fourth) and Felixstowe & Walton United (13th) all had good starts to the season before it was suspended.

Meanwhile, Leiston travel to Needham Market for an FA Trophy first round proper tie this evening, while Felixstowe & Walton United are away at Leatherhead in the same competition. Lowestoft Town are at home to Cheshunt.

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