February 25 – After weeks of uncertainty, the non-league game in England below the top two levels has been curtailed for the second successive season.
More than 75% of clubs in steps 3 to 6 of the non-league pyramid voted in a survey to end the campaign if games could not be played with fans before April 1.
It is the second time in a row that the non-league season has been wiped put prematurely after last season’s results were declared null and void in March.
The decision, whilst a blow for thousands of grassroots fans, will not be a total surprise since most clubs had only played a handful of league fixtures before the sport was locked down before Christmas. With no broadcasting deal at this level of the game, almost all the clubs rely on fans through the turnstiles and bar takings to make ends meet.
“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,” said an English FA statement.
“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.”
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