Thousands sign petition calling for controversial decision to be overturned as South Shields FC face anxious wait

Almost 7,000 people have signed a national petition calling for a controversial decision - that saw football below the National League's three divisions end immediately and results expunged - to be overturned.

Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 12:09 pm
Geoff Thompson.

The move has angered over 150 clubs with South Shields FC helping to lead the charge on behalf of clubs affected and have written to the FA.

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 to National League North before the season was halted.

A nine-page legal letter was sent to the FA last Friday on behalf of three clubs - South Shields, Worthing and Hastings - who represent a further 148 teams in the men’s and women’s game.

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The clubs have hit out at the lack of consultation and speed of the decision. A number of MPs have also criticised the decision, with League One Peterborough United also signing the original letter to the FA.

The decision was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women's Board.

But it needs to be ratified by the FA Council, who were due to meet today but it is understood that meeting was postponed.

Meanwhile, so far 6,752 people have signed a petition set-up nationally by football fan Luke Channer, which is available here.

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.

Efforts to have the decision overturned have been gathering pace over the past week with club staff now waiting for news of further developments.

Shields chairman Geoff Thompson told the Gazette last week: “I didn’t expect this reaction and I’m delighted we have got it.

“We all heard the decision by social media and that is the first point we want to discuss, the communication.

“Then we feel like the decision was made at the wrong time, and thirdly we want a consistent approach from the Premier League and Liverpool’s situation right down the pyramid.

“We’ve gone back to the FA and expressed our disappointment and asked for some engagement with us.

“We are effectively looking at two potential outcomes. One, to finish the season when it is possible to do so. Two, if it isn’t possible to finish the season, to have some dialogue about the best way forward.

“The last resort should be to make the season null and void.”

An FA spokesperson said last week: "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."