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Coronavirus battle: All football below National League to end now

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There’ll be no promotion or relegation below the National League this year after the Football Association announced the season would end immediately because of the coronavirus crisis.

According to a statement from the governing body on Thursday afternoon, Steps 3 to 6 have reached a consensus that the 2019/20 season will end with immediate effect, all results being expunged.

As a result, there will be no promotion or relegation of clubs between Steps 3 to 6, or relegation from Step 2.

However, the door is still open to the semi-finals of both the FA Vase and FA Trophy still being played, along with the finals.

The planned implementation of the restructure of the National League System has also been deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.

The decisions also apply to the leagues and clubs at Step 7 of the National League System, effectively leaving only the National League to determine their fate, complicated by the competition’s links to the professional game through promotion and relegation from the English Football League.

Unless the coronavirus crisis changes minds, the National League, National League North and South, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship will continue towards a conclusion of the 2019/20 season “as quickly as possible”.

The full statement from the Football Association

Confirmation of the end of the 2019/20 season. The following statement has this afternoon been released by the FA.

We have been working collaboratively with the National League System (NLS), the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game since the outbreak of COVID-19 on how to conclude the 2019-20 season in the most appropriate way possible.

These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game and in consultation across key stakeholders. Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.

Today’s steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, whilst considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided with the integrity of the leagues in mind.

National League System

The NLS and the women’s football pyramid were able to build a consensus amongst their leagues and, where possible, aimed to create a consistent approach across all leagues, whilst taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual league.

As a result, The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two. These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.

We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.

Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.

Where appropriate, the above decisions will be put to The FA Council for ratification. Throughout this period we continue to seek guidance in respect of the government’s financial support packages relative to COVID-19 and how they are applicable to clubs in the NLS, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game.”

Women’s football

The FA, FA Women’s Board members and the Women’s Football Conference have consulted and reached a consensus regarding the women’s football pyramid.

The FA and the leagues within tiers three to seven have reached a consensus to bring the season to an immediate end and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between tiers three to seven. Agreement has also been reached to end the Regional Talent Clubs season, which was due to conclude in April 2020.

We remain in consultation with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship Board and clubs regarding the most appropriate way to complete the current season, including for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Academy.

FA competitions

With the 2019-20 Emirates FA Cup, Women’s FA Cup, Buildbase FA Trophy and Buildbase FA Vase all at advanced stages, we are reviewing all options as we seek to complete these competitions whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so. Clubs involved are close to reaching a major final and for those clubs and supporters we will do all we can to keep the Wembley dream alive.

In respect of The FA Youth Cup, The FA County Youth Cup, The FA Sunday Cup and The FA Inter-League Cup, we are also seeking to complete these competitions if it is feasible to do so.

We will also continue planning for FA competitions to take place for the 2020-21 season.

Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on Sunday to read all the latest news from across Non-League over the last seven days on the growing impact of the coronavirus crisis on the game and society.

Image courtesy of The Non-League Paper & theFA.com

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