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National League calls for Football Association help to end its season

Football has been brought to a shuddering halt in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19.


The National League has a decision to make about the 2019/20 season (Richard Sellers/PA)

The National League has a decision to make about the 2019/20 season (Richard Sellers/PA)

The National League has a decision to make about the 2019/20 season (Richard Sellers/PA)

The National League has asked the Football Association to help end its season “as soon as possible” due to the coronavirus.

With the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating across the country, football has been brought to a shuddering halt in a bid to curb the spread.

The FA has been liaising with all stakeholders in recent days regarding the next steps across both the men’s and women’s National League pyramid and grassroots football following the impact of the coronavirus.

The National League has now confirmed it does not intend to restart the 2019/20 season for its three divisions.

A statement issued by the National League to clubs, published by Boreham Wood, read: “As many of you will know, The National League held a Board discussion yesterday (Monday), which was the third such meeting in 11 days.

“The broad consensus was that our clubs wish for a decision to be made to close the season as soon as possible.

“The National League attended a further meeting last night (by video conference) with The Football Association, and The FA have been asked to assist us with making the decisions to officially postpone all remaining National League fixtures and to end the season as soon as possible for the purposes of player contracts.

“The National League is also working with the FA to define all reasonable and practical options for the determination of the 2019/20 season, and to provide guidance to clubs on dealing with player contracts, player registrations and the application of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“We will continue to press for updates and will ensure that any further information is relayed to clubs as soon as it is received.

“The League is very aware that clubs are looking for answers and greater certainty, and we remain focused on delivering these in the most timely manner possible.

“Please keep the flow of information going with the League’s Directors and staff, and be assured that we will respond as soon as we can when updates are available on the various issues.”

Assuming the seasons are finished, decisions have to be made whether to determine the final standings by average points per game, or declare them null and void.

The ongoing uncertainty has prompted Hartlepool, who sat in ninth place in the table when the programme was suspended, to ask their staff and players to take a 20 per cent pay cut in March, while administrative workers have been furloughed and “a small number” made redundant.

Chief executive Mark Maguire confirmed chairman Raj Singh is continuing to provide financial support, but admitted that more jobs could be lost at Victoria Park as the club attempts to cope with a difficult situation.

In a statement on Pools’ website, Maguire said: “As such over the last few days, we have made some difficult decisions which have included asking all staff and players to take a 20 per cent reduction in March wages.

“In addition, we have unfortunately terminated the contracts of a small number of members of staff and put the jobs of an additional few at risk of redundancy.

“These actions were taken with a heavy heart and involve individuals who have shown loyal service to the club in some cases over a significant period of time, but these are tough times and we simply must make sure that the club emerges with a sustainable cost base whilst still being competitive on the pitch.

“[Manager] Dave Challinor has been kept fully up to date with developments and is desperate to get back to work and continue the progress made over the last few months.”

Meanwhile, Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson said on Tuesday that their competition along with the “Northern Premier and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019-20 season immediately”.

“The step five and six Leagues also support the immediate termination of the season,” he said in a statement.

“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 determined 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 step three and four Leagues have therefore commenced the process to terminate the season. This has to be ratified by the FA Council, so there may be a short delay as the relevant documentation is submitted, distributed and approved.”