FA explains why points-per-game method wasn't used as South Shields FC have promotion hopes dashed

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The FA has explained why it opted to expunge results rather than opt for a points-per-game method to conclude the season after South Shields FC saw their promotion hopes ended.

Shields were top of the BetVictor Premier Division table and led nearest rivals FC United of Manchester by 12 points but their promotion hopes are now in tatters after the FA Council ratified the decision to declare the 2019/20 season across Steps 3-7 of the National League System, Tiers 3 to 7 of the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game null and void.

The decision, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, means there will be no promotion or relegation in these 91 leagues, angering South Shields fans, players and staff who had seen their side on the verge of promotion.

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One other possible option to conclude the campaign was to use a points-per-game method in deciding the final table but Laurence Jones, The FA’s Head of National League System, has explained why they didn’t opt for that.

South Shields FC owner Geoff Thompson.South Shields FC owner Geoff Thompson.
South Shields FC owner Geoff Thompson. | JPIMedia

Jones explained: “I understand that this decision has inevitably caused some clubs, players and supporters to feel a sense of injustice and those feelings are entirely understandable.

“This is not an easy time for anyone in football and we understand that there is no decision that will suit everyone.

“We sympathise with those clubs that are currently occupying promotion spots – or those hopeful of securing promotion. Some believe that it would be better to opt for a Points Per Match [PPM] model to conclude the remainder of the season, as oppose to expunging results.

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“Both options, and the potential implications of each, were considered at length by all involved.

“The truth is that the consequence of clubs being promoted is that others will need to be relegated. The application of a PPM model would result in certain clubs that currently sit above the relegation zone falling into those places.

“Equally, there would be certain clubs that currently sit in a play-off position that would not qualify as a result of the PPM Model. The PPM model also doesn’t address the issue of how to deal with play-off matches and how to identify a winner who would consequently benefit from promotion.

“In addition, most of the clubs facing relegation will be of the view that they stood a chance of avoiding it due to the number of games remaining in the season and they may consider it to be unfair for them to be denied the opportunity to secure safety through sporting merit.

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“It is impossible to find a solution that works for everybody, so the decision was based on two main factors. Firstly, the potential financial impact on clubs during this uncertain period, and secondly, the fairest method on how to decide the sporting outcomes for the season, with the integrity of the Leagues in mind.

“Some have referenced the fact the PPM model has been used to determine promotion and relegation in the past, which is correct, but only in cases where clubs are compared across different leagues, with the season having been completed and all clubs having played their fixtures.”