National League and Below Null & Void. Is This The Answer?Peter Houghton
While the Premier League and the EFL Leagues continue to harbour some hope that their competitions will resume at some and reach satisfactory conclusions, the thought of true football fans must go out to the clubs tussling for supremacy in the National League and below who have seen their seasons drawn to a close, regardless of the outcome of the Coronavirus pandemic.
What does this say about our “National Game”. With Liverpool, West Bromwich Albion and Leeds United, and Coventry City sitting proudly at the top of their divisions and several points clear of their rivals it is understandable that the professional leagues want their competitions to complete. League 2 is more of a free for all with at least the top 5 still in contention.
But where does that leave sides like Barrow and Harrogate Town, both in good positions in the National League? Where does it leave York City and Wealdstone? South Shields FC are 12 points clear at the top of the Northern Premier League and are threatening legal action having invested heavily in their club this season.
How does it sit with Jersey Bulls who have won all 27 of their matches this season and sit 20 points clear at the top of the Combined Counties Football League Division One?
And these are just the teams at the top of their leagues. What about those escaping from relegation and those who can’t get promoted?
The Coronavirus has undoubtedly left the game at all levels in turmoil and there is no quick fix. My understanding is that the current 3-week stay indoors is not one where it will be relaxed thereafter, it is the prelude to the next set of even tougher measures. I have a number of close contacts in my local hospital who tell me the peak will not be until late May/early June.
Even then we will not be able to guarantee that people entering our stadium will be safe and we have seen the SGSA urge us to ensure we have a risk analysis as there could well be a “tail-end Charlie” who catches the virus and presents us with a lawsuit. Probably the first question we will be asked is about the steps we have taken to mitigate the risk. John Newsham has recently devised a document which members can access on the website to help you with this. There is no one-size-fits-all, but John’s document can be adapted to the circumstances of your club and will help you if you’re left standing in the walnut box holding on to the brass rails!
The FSOA Office, although working from home will keep you posted.