COVID-19 has brought the world of football to a screeching halt. Suspension of all competitions has had a massive impact on teams at every level. Non-League Teams have been the worst hit out of all. The Football Association has come up with the appalling decision of declaring the non-league season from tier three and below void without realizing the ramifications it would have on lower tier teams which run the risk of Financial Collapse. The FA released a statement saying that:
“The decision taken to end the 2019-20 season across steps 3-7 of the National League System, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women’s Board. It will now go to The FA Council for ratification”.
“We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football.”
The situation changed swiftly leaving non-league teams in the lurch. The huge decision is not only limited to the club staff or players but is also going to affect the communities that represent and depend on these clubs. In response to the unexplainable haste in voiding the non-league season following the coronavirus pandemic, more than 100 clubs have written asking for reasonable dialogue. Teams from tiers three to six of men’s NLS and tiers three to seven of women’s teams in a joint letter have asked the FA to reconsider their decision.
Clubs like Halesowen Town have made it public that the voiding of the season poses profound sporting and financial implications and that the decision was taken without any proper consultation. Clubs are also seeking Judicial advice on how to proceed with negotiations with the governing football bodies. Clubs in the National League System do not have broadcasting deals, the only source of income for them is ticket sales and small sponsorship. Though the FA in a response to the open letter has given out a clarification that the decision of voiding the current season and competitions was taken by the league themselves taking into account the financial implications. NLS clubs are also furious at the fact that the decision taken by the FA only applies to those clubs below step three and not to the elite football clubs of Premier League and below. The letter aims to highlight the difference in approach taken for the bottom level teams and those at the summit of English football’s pyramid.
Clubs like Vauxhall Motors had already secured promotion to the upper league but the decision leaves them hanging in mid-air, as they fail to understand on what ground their promotion is halted. Non-League clubs stand united at this unprecedented time for the global community and are looking for clarity not just for their clubs but for their local communities and find it impossible to do so without reasonable relief from the higher governing bodies of football.