South Shields FC join 63 other clubs in writing letter to FA slamming controversial decision and calling for answers

South Shields FC are one of 64 non-league clubs to write a joint letter to the FA demanding answers and slamming the lack of consultation after the lower tiers of the football ladder had their seasons cancelled.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 4:35 pm

The FA and Leagues at Steps 3 to 6 of the non-league pyramid last week reached the hugely controversial decision to end the 2019-20 season with immediate effect with all results expunged.

It comes after all football was suspended as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

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 following the controversial decision.

South Shields FC were 12 points clear.

Angry South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson, who has signed the letter to the FA, had already said the club would ‘seek an appeal or will take legal action’ after their promotion hopes were dashed.

And now details of a lengthy letter to the FA have been released with dozens of clubs outlining their ‘profound concern and displeasure.’ It is reported there will also be attempts to get the sports minister involved following the FA’s decision. The FA Council is yet to ratify the decision.

This statement is a joint letter to the Football Association from clubs in steps three to seven of the non-league, as well as from some clubs across the respective women’s leagues.

It read: “Our concern is grounded primarily in the needless and inexplicable haste exercised in reaching the decision, coupled with a total lack of substantive dialogue or consultation with affected clubs. The decision also disregards the millions of pounds invested and countless hours expended collectively by clubs, and so has critical financial implications.

“In writing this joint letter, we recognise that the decision to expunge results for the 2019/20 season still pends official ratification from the FA Council. However, we believe it is unacceptable that such a decision has been handed down to us in this manner.

“We urgently seek constructive dialogue with the FA with the aim to have the decision re-considered. “

The clubs added they all agreed with the decision to suspend the season until it is safe to resume adding: “it would be both irresponsible and reckless to consider resuming playing football at this time.”

It then laid out a series of questions to the FA including why was the decision reached so quickly, queries over the lack of consultation, why were financial implications not discussed and how ‘can the FA possibly justify treating different steps under the non-league banner differently?’ - with the National League still deciding what they are going to do.

The letter concluded: “A crisis like this is a watershed moment for the FA and the relationship it chooses to have with non-league and grassroots football.

“It is imperative to solve this issue sensibly and democratically over the coming weeks, with transparent, constructive and fair dialogue with respective leagues and clubs.

“The alternative which would certainly not reflect well on the FA, is forcing clubs to embark on potential legal recourse, which is wholly unnecessary and financially burdening to clubs.

“However, we reserve all our rights in this respect and this letter is without prejudice to any legal arguments which may become required to be made in due course.

“We urge the FA to reconsider its decision and to slow down the whole process, offering proper consultation with afflicted leagues and clubs as the picture becomes clearer, before deciding a way forward.

“We stand ready to play our full part to help achieve a fair outcome, allowing the integrity of England’s football pyramid to be upheld in such a period of national adversity.”

Sunderland West End were among the clubs to sign the letter, Sunderland Ladies’ did not appear as a signatory.