The BetVictor sponsored Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League are terminating their seasons with immediate effect.
The three senior competitions covering Steps 3 and 4 of the National League System confirmed the end of their suspended campaigns in statements on their websites at teatime on Monday.
Whether the 2019-20 season is declared null and void is effectively in the hands of the National League as it cannot be determined until Non-League’s top flight decides how it wishes to proceed.
As a bridge to the English Football League through its promotion slots, the National League’s options are also limited by the next move of the professional game.
https://t.co/zVaaicv1hL Isthmian League statement, 24th March 2020.
— The Isthmian League (@IsthmianLeague) March 24, 2020
National League officials met with the Football Association yesterday after consulting with their clubs while the governing body held a video conference with Step 5 and 6 competitions earlier on Tuesday.
According to the statements, Non-League’s Step 5 and 6 competitions are also in favour of ending the suspension and terminating their campaigns.
Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson explained the competition’s stance in their statement.
“The Alliance Leagues held the latest of several conference calls last night (Monday) after our own board, and those of the Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, met over the weekend to determine how we wish to proceed. We have also participated in calls with the Step 5/6 clubs.
“The Step 3 & 4 Leagues share clubs’ 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 the whole of the National League System. However, this may not be possible.
“The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019-20 season immediately. The Step 5/6 Leagues also support the immediate termination of the season. Whether that is done on the basis of determining final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null & 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 3 and 4 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. 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.
“As soon as the National League’s position is finalised, we will be able to confirm the basis on which the 2019-20 season has ended. As I have already pointed out, we need as much commonality across the National League System as possible.
— The Southern League (@SouthernLeague1) March 24, 2020
“The FA is currently reviewing its rules to understand whether any emergency changes are required for season 2019/2020 which impact on player contracts, registration deadlines and retention/offers of re-engagement in the National League System.
“Given the fast-moving nature of the existing situation this work is ongoing. Finally, at this very difficult time, I hope that you and your families will stay safe.”
Today’s news comes after The Non-League Paper delivered a desperate plea on behalf of clubs to the government and Premier League for a cash lifeline to save them from the escalating coronavirus crisis.
Sunday’s NLP united diverse voices from across the game with administrators, chairman, players, fans and big names like Sam Allardyce all defending clubs as community assets that must be shielded from the financial chaos being created by the global pandemic.
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on a Sunday for the latest news from across Non-League over the last seven days on the growing impact of the coronavirus on the game and society.