The Football Association has confirmed that the league season in several tiers of the men’s and women’s game is to be declared null and void, despite the pleas of more than 60 clubs.
Competition in men’s non-league football from tiers three to seven, women’s football from tiers three to seven and all grassroots football have been struck from the record books. The decision was confirmed on Thursday by the FA council, with the continuation of play deemed impossible because of the coronavirus crisis.
“The request to end the 2019-20 season was taken to the FA council by the representatives of the relevant committees having been fully supported by the FA board,” an FA spokesman said. “The FA council’s vote today was overwhelmingly in favour of ratifying the decision.”
Following the FA board’s verdict on 26 March, 64 non-league clubs wrote to the FA condemning the “needless and inexplicable haste” to stop the various competitions when other leagues – including the men’s National League – had merely been suspended.
The FA always insisted the decision had been taken with full support of the leagues involved. In a lengthy statement setting out the reasons for annulment the FA’s head of national league system, Laurence Jones, cited “significant operational challenges” as being behind the decision.
“In some leagues, clubs have as many as 16 matches left to play,” he said. “On the basis that a club was able to play up to two matches per week, this would require at least eight weeks to play out those fixtures.
“This is before consideration is given to time needed for players to become match fit and for play-off matches to take place prior to the beginning of the 2020-21 season. Notwithstanding the fact that it may not be possible at this level, practically or logistically, for clubs to play up to two matches per week.”