Null and void it is. FA Council ratify decision to expunge Step 3-7 results

The non-league seasons at Steps 3-7 is now null and void

The non-league seasons at Steps 3-7 is now null and void - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The FA Council has ratified the decision to expunge all results at Steps 3-7 of the national game because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision means teams like Leiston, Needham Market, AFC Sudbury, Felixstowe and Bury Town and those in the Eastern Counties and SIL Senior division leagues will see their work over the season to date wiped from the record books.

Laurence Jones, the FA’s Head of National League System said: “We know that it is impossible to reach decisions that will please everybody. We entirely sympathise with the teams that oppose the decision affecting their leagues, some of which have perfectly understandable reasons for wanting to see the 2019/20 league season continue. But it is important to emphasise that the decisions they took were made in the best interests of all the leagues, as a collective, and in consultation with key stakeholders across English football. We sympathise with those clubs that are currently occupying promotion spots – or those hopeful of securing promotion.”

Jones added: “The overwhelming feeling across the Leagues and the FA was that temporarily postponing the 2019/20 season, and resuming at a later date, would create great uncertainty on a number of issues which include: player contracts and squads; scheduling of the 2020/21 season; and the ongoing financial impact on clubs.”

There were essentially two choices: working out a Points Per Match to decide positions or expunge results.

Jones said: “I understand that this decision has inevitably caused some Clubs, players and supporters to feel a sense of injustice and those feelings are entirely understandable. This is not an easy time for anyone in football and we understand that there is no decision that will suit everyone.

“We sympathise with those clubs that are currently occupying promotion spots – or those hopeful of securing promotion. Some believe that it would be better to opt for a Points Per Match [PPM] model to conclude the remainder of the season, as oppose to expunging results.

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“Both options, and the potential implications of each, were considered at length by all involved.

“The truth is that the consequence of clubs being promoted is that others will need to be relegated. The application of a PPM model would result in certain clubs that currently sit above the relegation zone falling into those places.

“Equally, there would be certain clubs that currently sit in a play-off position that would not qualify as a result of the PPM Model. The PPM model also doesn’t address the issue of how to deal with play-off matches and how to identify a winner who would consequently benefit from promotion.

“In addition, most of the clubs facing relegation will be of the view that they stood a chance of avoiding it due to the number of games remaining in the season and they may consider it to be unfair for them to be denied the opportunity to secure safety through sporting merit.

“It is impossible to find a solution that works for everybody, so the decision was based on two main factors. Firstly, the potential financial impact on clubs during this uncertain period, and secondly, the fairest method on how to decide the sporting outcomes for the season, with the integrity of the Leagues in mind.

“Some have referenced the fact the PPM model has been used to determine promotion and relegation in the past, which is correct, but only in cases where clubs are compared across different leagues, with the season having been completed and all clubs having played their fixtures.”

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