Non-League season 'curtailed' for local clubs
The 2020/21 season is officially over for clubs at Steps 3 to 6 of the National League System (NLS) after the Football Association confirmed fixtures will be “curtailed with immediate effect” due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The news comes as no surprise after the Trident Leagues (Southern League/Isthmian League/Northern Premier League) had recommended curtailing the season to its members ahead of an FA survey, which was completed by 99.1 per cent of clubs at Steps 3 and 4 and 95.8 per cent of clubs at Steps 5 and 6.
It means the season for the likes of AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Banbury United, Biggleswade Town, Kings Langley, Corby Town, Bedford Town, Daventry Town and Aylesbury United is now over while the United Counties League and Spartan South Midlands League campaigns are also over.
In a statement released this evening (Wednesday), the FA said: “The results of the survey showed that over 76 per cent of all clubs across Steps 3 to 6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020/21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before April 1, 2021.
“During this process, taking into account views of clubs and leagues, it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option.
“This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements which had resulted in there being 81 per cent of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75 per cent at Steps 5 and 6.
“Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, our alliance and leagues committees have reached a consensus that, subject to the approval of FA Council, the 2020/21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the NLS should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season.
“The committees will now present their collective recommendations to the FA Council for ratification.
“It has also been decided that, subject to FA Council’s decision regarding the curtailment of the season at Steps 3 to 6, both committees will revisit discussions around a potential restructure at Steps 4-6 of the NLS, which was previously agreed and has been on hold since the 2019-20 season. A further update on this will be provided in due course.”
The National League North and South divisions at Step 2 were also declared null and void last week after a vote by member clubs.