Local football bosses all asking same question: How can we get season finished?

Bosses of the Southern Combination Football League are hoping for clear guidance from the FA as they grapple with the question: How can the 2020-21 season be saved?

Monday, 4th January 2021, 2:52 pm
Updated Monday, 4th January 2021, 2:56 pm
Local football is on hold - for how long?

They were involved in a weekend phone conference with officials from other step five and six leagues at which the latest hold-up in the campaign was discussed - along with what can and should be done to salvage the season.

There is an agreement that their hands are tied in terms of getting matches restarted until the government eases Covid restrictions - currently tier four across Sussex and the whole south-east - which does not look like happening any time soon as cases continue to rise.

Officials fear the 20-21 season will be very difficult to finish naturally if matches cannot restart by early March - and then the question will be: How do we decide promotion and relegation?

Step five and six teams were among those whose 2019-20 seasons were declared null and void last spring, and there are growing fears the same could happen for a second straight year - this at a time when the FA are trying to reorganise the whole non-league pyramid.

But clubs and leagues are keen to consider all the options - which could include using points per game to work out final tables, or even adding two seasons' worth of results together to give one set of final placings.

SCFL chairman Steve Nealgrove told us talks were going on in the background but there was little the league could do before the FA had given guidance. He said it was pointless different leagues deciding what they wanted to do to get seasons finished if these moves could then be over-ruled by FA officials.

Nealgrove said the way Sussex and surrounding areas had gradually been moved into tighter lockdown restrictions had justified the league's decision, made on December 21, to suspend fixtures until January 9. They have since extended that to declare that all fixtures 'in the foreseeable future' are put on hold.

Things may become clearer after an FA Council meeting believed to be scheduled for later today.

Clubs and league officials at steps three and four of the non-league game - which includes the Isthmian League and Southern League - face a similar wait for news and guidance - and an identical dilemma in how promotion and relegation issues should be settled if a full set of fixtures is not completed.