Season ended for at Hebburn Town and South Shields after FA announcement
The promotion bids at Hebburn Town and South Shields have ended in disappointment after the Football Association announced that the 2020/21 season is to be declared as null and void.
Both South Tyneside clubs looked well placed to continue their upwards momentum with Hebburn sat five points clear at the top of the Northern League Division One table and South Shields in sixth in the Northern Premier League’s top tier.
Both sides and South Tyneside neighbours Jarrow have been without a league game since November when tighter Covid-19 restrictions brought a halt to non-elite football across the country.
Since that decision was taken, the Football Association have sought advice from clubs to get their opinions on what should happen with the rest of the season.
A statement released on Wednesday evening confirmed that 76% of clubs in steps three to six of the non-league system had indicated that they would prefer to curtail the season.
After considering those views and the financial implications of restarting behind closed doors, the FA’s Alliance and Leagues committee have now recommended that the season be brought to an end – although the move will still have to be ratified by an FA council before it is finalised.
The statement in full read: “The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees have now considered the large amount of data and information submitted by clubs across the National League System (NLS) Steps 3-6 as part of a survey to gather views on the continuation or conclusion of the 2020-21 league season, in addition to the information set out in the Government’s roadmap this week.
“Submissions were made by 99.1% of clubs at Steps 3 and 4, and 95.8% of clubs at Steps 5 and 6. We would like to thank the clubs for submitting their views and the time taken in providing responses during what we appreciate is an incredibly challenging period for everyone.
“The results of the survey showed that over 76% of all clubs across Steps 3-6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020-21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before 1 April 2021.
“During this process, taking into account views of clubs and leagues it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option.
“This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements which had resulted in there being 81% of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75% at Steps 5 and 6.
“Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees have reached a consensus that subject to the approval of FA Council, the 2020-21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the NLS should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season.”
The FA also revealed that they will “revisit” discussions over a potential restructure of the non-league system which was scheduled to take place at the end of last season.