Town’s campaign looks over as league “starts process to terminate season”

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FOOTBALL

STRATFORD Town’s 2019/20 Southern Premier Central campaign looks like it will not be completed after league bosses confirmed they had “started the process to terminate the season”.

Chiefs of the Southern League, which operates leagues at Step Three and Step Four on the non-league pyramid, had a conference call with the FA and other league officials on Monday to resolve football’s coronavirus crisis.

Prior to those crunch talks, all non-league football had been initially put on hold until 3rd April due to the COVID-19 situation, but with the Government imposing stricter measures to keep people at home, starting fixtures after that date is virtually impossible.

Although the National League seem to want the 2019/20 season to resume at some point, a joint statement released today, Tuesday, by the Southern League, Northern League and Isthmian League said the three leagues do not share that view because their clubs “do not have the financial resources to continue to honour player contracts indefinitely”.

Because of this, the Southern, Northern and Isthmian leagues say they have now started the process to terminate the season, but that has to be ratified by the FA before it can be done.

The statement on the Southern League website reads: “The Alliance Leagues held the latest of several conference calls last night, Monday, after our own board, and those of the Isthmian and Northern Premier leagues, met over the weekend to determine how we wish to proceed.

“We have also participated in calls with the Step Five/Six clubs.

“The Step Three and Four leagues share clubs’s frustration that it is taking so long to determine whether the 2019/20 season is to end now, and if so on what basis.

“To maintain the integrity of our competitions, we ideally need to apply one solution across all of the National League System.

“However, this may not be possible. The Southern, Isthmian and Northern Premier Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019/20 season immediately.

“Whether that is done on the basis of determining final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null and void cannot be decided until the National League decides how it wishes to proceed.

“Right now, the National League’s position is that they wish to be able to resume the 2019/20 season at some point.

“The feeder leagues do not support this because our clubs do not have the financial resources to continue to honour player contracts indefinitely.

“The Southern, Isthmian and Northern Premier Leagues have therefore implemented the process to terminate the season.

“This has to be ratified by FA council, so there may be a short delay as the relevant documentation is submitted, distributed and approved.

“Whilst this process is on-going, and once the National League has finalised how it wishes to proceed, competition issues can then be decided, together with the implications for promotion and relegation.”