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Coronavirus takes Mike Appleby, the man who restructured grassroots

coronavirus mike appleby

The coronavirus has taken the life of Mike Appleby, one of the key figures behind the Football Association’s successful restructuring of the Non-League pyramid.

The former FA Leagues manager passed away in hospital on Tuesday at the age of 65 after contracting COVID-19 in March. Despite still being in intensive care, there had been hope only hours before his passing that he could still recover after he’d come out of a coma in recent days.

The Milton Keynes-based football administrator retired from the FA in November 2015 before joining the Spartan South Midlands League as a director in 2016 and taking up what proved to be his final role as the competition’s general manager.

Tributes to the football man from clubs, fans and officials started to appear online within minutes of the SSML reporting news of Mr Appleby’s passing and only hours after a positive update on his condition.

The SSML said: “It’s with great sadness and heavy heart after glimmers of hope Michael Appleby passed away this afternoon, after contracting the virus nearly a month ago. The family thanks all wished him recovery and your prayers. Now fly high Mike and shine a light, you will be missed RIP.”

As well as being widely credited with much of legwork behind the successful restructuring of the National League System in 2004/05 and the creation of the National league North and South divisions, the FA man went on to oversee the second phase of restructuring at Step 5 and below.

Before leaving the governing body five years ago, he’d also been hailed for keeping the England C side going and fully funded in recent years when the future of one of the FA’s most successful sides was under threat.

Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper  from this weekend for the latest news on the impact of the coronavirus crisis on football as the National League’s clubs prepare for an historic first poll on how to conclude their ‘indefinitely’ suspended campaigns.

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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & Twitter

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