'It makes more sense to prepare for a new season' - Views on the road ahead for non-league football in Suffolk

The new non-league season starts this weekend: Picture: Steve Waller

It's been a tough time for non-league. But hope is now in sight of a return, either this season or certainly next. - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Two seasons of the non-league programme have now been decimated by the Covid pandemic.

And while grassroots football is set to be allowed to start up again at the end of March, for the game further up the pyramid, the future for this season is still uncertain.

So, what to do?

Here are some of the personal thoughts of those in the Suffolk non-league world - not necessarily their club's viewpoint.

ANTHONY FRYATT (Framlingham Town): "I can't see a way that the current season can finish and i would much rather have a normal season next season. That being said, I would like to see some of the teams, especially those who have been at the top for both of the uncompleted seasons, rewarded for their success, so perhaps a PPG (points per game) system, taking into account the two seasons could enable some promotions, even if to fill some gaps higher up. If we do get the not do play a small League Cup competitive competition could run from April."

CRAIG CHIDLOW (Trimley Red Devils): "From a club point of view, Trimley can't play midweek as we have no floodlights. So it would seem unfortunately the season would have to be null and void in the SIL. Hopefully all cups can still be finished and friendlies offered among ourselves to keep us all ticking over until May."

Mark Morsley, wants his side now to kick on... Photo: ANDY ABBOTT

Mark Morsley - Prepare for next season - Credit: Archant

MARK MORSLEY (AFC Sudbury): "There is no way we can do anything other than prepare for the 2021/22 season. No league games can suddenly restart, plus having had no income for months, clubs who have to start playing will then have a wage liability for their contracted players. We will not play until pre-season friendlies."

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SHANE COLDRON (Whitton United): "It's crucial we regroup and start again, the financial impact on non-league has been catastrophic. But we can only return when clubhouses are fully open and all revenue streams can be maximised. I would welcome an early start to next season with more games to allow for a winter break should the virus strike again next winter. I just hope all clubs in Suffolk can bounce back to provide the togetherness so any towns and communities enjoy."

Brantham Athletic's joint player/manager, Michael Brothers, in action on Saturday. Picture: PAUL VOL

Michael Brothers. Heart says one thing, head another. - Credit: Archant

MICHAEL BROTHERS (Brantham Athletic): "My heart says I can't wait to get playing, my head says with no hospitality, fans, changing rooms, then let's wait until we can do it all properly again. The thought of it so close is at least a great feeling for all involved, a new season, end July/August isn't too far away. We'll be ready whatever happens."

ANDY CRISP: (Leiston): "With such a long break it makes more sense to prepare for a new season, on and off the pitch. It's not just about trying to finish the league, it's about preparing for re-opening the business of running a football club and securing sponsorship deals to try and get on a financially sustainable footing. A few friendly games would be great for the players and of course the fans who have missed their football so much."

Stuart Boardley, has left Leiston. Photo: PAUL VOLLER

Stuart Boardley: Wants a quick decision - Credit: Archant

STUART BOARDLEY (Felixstowe & Walton): "For a long time now all we have hoped for is a full and proper season next year. The PM's announcements indicate it is very much achievable and I look forward to a quick decision on this season's outcome, so we can all move on."

CHRISTIAN APPLEFORD (Hadleigh United): "Yesterday's announcement gave some hope to players that football is returning. Unfortunately for Steps 6 and above I feel it could be a false hope. Until clear plans are laid out and known regarding if spectators can attend for club's income streams, it could be it's not viable financially to continue at the moment. Like most people I'm desperate to get back to the game, but mindful it may be unrealistic right now."

JAMES BUCKLE (Ipswich Wanderers): "Just the thought of football returning is good. It would take a couple of weeks for the boys to get back to a good level of fitness , but it's something we are prepared for having come so far as a club in the last few years. If the season is null and void, we will focus on next season. If it's not, we have a job to finish this season."

Bury Town FC chairman Russell Ward described Brian Wadsworth as a "true servant" to the club. Pictur

Bury chairman Russell Ward: 'Need spectators and secondary income'

RUSSELL WARD (Bury Town): "The League's agreed we would only resume football if we could have spectators and secondary income. Going by what was said yesterday, secondary income looks like it wouldn't be allowed until May 17 which means we wouldn't be starting. We want to know what's happening as soon as to prepare for next season."

GLENN SNELL (Woodbridge Town): "The team have had the longest period of their lives without football, excluding injuries, so their health and safety is paramount. To get them up to speed we will need a two-month pre-season before we could consider playing. I think the sensible thing would be to write this season off and prepare for next. Start July, less midweek games and fans back in the ground."

PAUL MUSGROVE (Stowmarket Town): "We wanted to find a way to complete the season for everyone at the club, fans, committee, volunteers and players, but the time-frame won't work. The club needs to be open fully to be sustainable. Let's not forget after such a long lay-off the players need a proper pre-season. Will their actually be promotion or relegation with what's happening further up the pyramid? Null and void if someone could just say it!"

Keith Nunn, chairman of Needham Market FC Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Needham Market chairman, Keith Nunn - Credit: Charlotte Bond

KEITH NUNN (Needham Market): "We are obviously still waiting for the FA and leagues to finalise a way forward but hoping that they will restart in April and combine this season and next which we think is the fairest way forward and best cover the possibility of a further lockdown later this year. But I suspect the decision will be null and void."

BEN CHENERY (Bury Town): "Obviously disappointed this looks like being the second null and void season. However, would be great to see us playing in April and May in some form. If that's not possible, we look forward to the start of next season in August."

IAIN RADNOR (Cranes): "For me, it is simply all or nothing. Most SIL sides are built around what happens before and after the game, as much as the bit in the middle! It's challenging enough, but take away a shower, changing rooms and no bar and I can't see the point. Null and void it, let clubs re-organise and re-build as restrictions ease.

WE WELCOME 'Your Posts' and thoughts on non-league football.

E: mike.bacon@archant.co.uk

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