Non-league season declared null and void from steps three to six
- Credit: Archant
The 2019-20 non-league season, from Step Three down to Step Six, has been declared null and void following a statement from the Football Association this afternoon.
All results ‘will be expunged’ and there will be ‘no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS (National League System) steps three to six.... ‘
This affects all of Suffolk’s leading non-league clubs, including Needham Market, Leiston and Lowestoft in the Southern League Premier Central (Step three), Bury Town, AFC Sudbury and Felixstowe & Walton in the Isthmian League North (step four), and of course the whole of the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League.
Stomwmarket Town, who were 15 points clear at the top of the Thurlow Nunn Premier, with just 10 games remaining, could be excused for feeling particularly hard done by, although their manager Rick Andrews had said earlier in the week that every club should stand by the league’s final decision.
Likewise, Bury Town will miss out on a possible play-off place in their league, while at the other end of the Isthmian North table, lowly Felixstowe & Walton will now not be in danger of relegation.
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The FA statement reads as following:
‘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.
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‘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.
‘The National League System 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.