The FA is “advising that all grassroots football in England is postponed for the foreseeable future” due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the National League shutting down having played matches over the weekend.
Despite the Premier League and EFL halting all matches until at least early April before the weekend, a number of non-league competitions controversially played on, at a time when the FA’s advice was that grassroots football was able to continue as usual.
The Northern Premier League (NPL), the last of the step three and four leagues to play on, bowed to the inevitable on Monday and announced a suspension of their fixtures with immediate effect, with the National League following suit shortly afterwards.
There were 23 matches played across the National League’s three divisions on Saturday, with just under 5,000 fans in attendance for Notts County’s 4-0 win against Eastleigh. Afterwards the Eastleigh manager, Ben Strevens, accused the competition of greed, adding there was “no way whatsoever” matches should have gone ahead.
An official statement said: “At its board meeting on Friday, the National League decided to use its best endeavours to keep its season going in the face of unprecedented adversity. However, with the current coronavirus reaching global pandemic levels it has to accept that the situation is now out of its own control.
“In the knowledge of the government measures now announced, including not to support sporting events with emergency services workers, it is clearly not practical for its fixtures to be fulfilled in the immediate future. In those circumstances and in line with the FA and professional game, the National League is now suspended until at least 3 April.”
The FA’s new statement confirmed a blanket ban on “grassroots” football in England, in line with updated government advice on reducing social contact.
“Following the government’s announcement today for people to avoid social contact and gatherings where possible, we are now advising that all grassroots football in England is postponed for the foreseeable future,” a statement read.
“We have taken government advice, with the priority being the health and wellbeing of all. We will continue to work closely with the grassroots game during this time. The situation within English football at all levels remains under regular review. Further updates will follow as needed.”