Key decision on non-league football season may be delayed

Non-league football teams may not get news on whether their season can be saved until the end of the month.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 8:31 am
Chichester City celebrate a goal in their most recent competitive game - against Saltdean in the Sussex Senior Cup on November 3 / Picture: Neil Holmes

As ‘radio silence’ from football’s rulers continues, there’s a growing feeling that nothing will be decided until after February 22 – which is when the prime minister is next due to update the country on whether current lockdown restrictions can be eased.

If Boris Johnson were to give the go-ahead for sport to resume and fans to be allowed in grounds from March, that might give the FA a quick decision to make in trying to get teams back in action and get league fixtures played.

More likely is that the return of sport – and fans – won’t be that immediate – and if matches can’t resume until April or May, the season looks set to be terminated.

The big decision which would then remain would be whether to use results from last season and this to work out points-per-game tables and award promotion to those who deserve it, in line with the ‘Project Non League’ proposals.

Bognor manager Jack Pearce said it continued to be a frustrating time for everyone in football, but the game could not plot its own way out of lockdown before goverment guidance on the gradual easing of Covid restrictions.

Pearce said: “A key factor for teams at non-league step three and below will be the return of fans. Without fans, clubs can’t operate – so the return of crowds is what we’ll all be waiting to hear about.”

Some leagues – including the SCFL – are planning to set up end-of-season cup competitions if time is too tight to get league fixtures finished.