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National League coming under growing pressure to terminate season

coronavirus crisis national league Sam Allardyce

The National League is reported to be preparing to pile more pressure on the professional game by cancelling all of it’s remaining fixtures within days and possibly hours.

With the English Football League and Premier League still committed to completing their suspended campaigns despite the growing coronavirus crisis, National League bosses are under growing pressure to shut down the season with member clubs fearing for their futures and eager for certainty.

Non-League’s top two tiers are currently suspended until at April 3 and the pro game until April that could change swiftly this week.

According to reports in multiple media outlets on Wednesday, including London’s Evening Standard and the Hartlepool Mail, the majority of clubs, including some of those pushing for promotion, reluctantly agreed on Tuesday that voiding the campaign is the only realistic way forward.

National League chief executive Michael Tattersall met with the Football Association last week to request a £17m support package, with clubs asked to provide their projected losses due to the public health crisis. As no plan could be agreed, it is understood they felt they were left will little choice but to vote to end the season immediately.

The BetVictor sponsored Isthmian League, Southern League and Northern Premier League announced they were terminating their seasons with immediate effect on Tuesday.

The nation’s Step 5 and 6 competitions also told the FA they want to terminate their campaigns on Tuesday via a video conferencing meeting.

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.

Boreham Wood chairman Danny Hunter is promising to continue to seek more clarity from the National League after holding detailed discussions with National League CEO Michael Tattersall and publishing the latest statement and guidance sent to clubs.

The statement 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.

“Finally, thank you to all clubs for submitting financial questionnaires. The data and comments have been reported to The Football Association, and we will continue to press for urgent additional assistance to be made available to National League and other Non-League clubs. Above all we wish everyone a safe and healthy passage through these turbulent times.”

The FA have confirmed that no decision has been made as they continue to consult with leagues at all levels.

A statement read: “We remain in regular dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders regarding next steps across both the Men’s and Women’s National League Pyramid and grassroots football, following the impact of the Coronavirus.

“No official decision has been made yet, but we will make a further announcement at the appropriate time. Our primary concern is for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff and supporters during this unprecedented time.”

Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on 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.

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