Coronavirus: All football below National League to end

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All football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League will end immediately and all results will be expunged.

It means there will be no promotion or relegation in these leagues.

The same will happen in the women’s game below the Women’s Super League and Championship level.

However, the National League, National League North and South, WSL and Women’s Championship will continue towards a conclusion “as quickly as possible”.

The Football Association said it was “reviewing all options” to complete the men’s FA Cup, which had reached the quarter-final stage, and other cup competitions.

The coronavirus pandemic has decimated all sports, with fixtures suspended earlier this month.

“These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game,” said an FA statement.

“Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.

“Today’s steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, whilst considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided, with the integrity of the leagues in mind.”

The decision applies to steps three to seven in men’s non-league football which contains 91 leagues.

All “grassroots” divisions below these tiers have also finished, but it has still yet to be decided whether these seasons are to be voided.

A planned restructure of the non-league system at lower levels has now been delayed until 2021-22.

In women’s football, tiers three to seven have also ended.

27 wins in a row for nothing

Some men’s teams, such as Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors, had already secured promotion to step five of the non-league pyramid, but their promotions will now be cancelled.

Jersey Bulls had won all 27 of their matches in the Combined Counties Football League Division One and were 20 points clear at the top.

Northern Premier League Premier Division leaders South Shields FC were set for promotion to National League North with a 13-point gap to second, but will now spend another campaign in tier seven of English football.

Chairman Geoff Thompson vented his frustration on Twitter, saying they had been “badly let down”.

“SSFC will be writing to the FA in the strongest possible terms and will seek an appeal or will take legal action,” he said.

“Whatever the outcome following this appalling decision the club will continue as before. However, there is no denying this decision has a huge financial impact.

“We have invested heavily this year in a host of areas and the loss of promotion will also affect some of our revenue assumptions for next season. My message to all our SSFC fans and sponsors is – sorry a huge disappointment and we’ve all been badly let down.”

Truro City were top of the Southern League Premier Division South and eyeing a return to the National League South.

Manager Paul Wotton feels the FA have treated lower-league sides differently to how they will deal with professional sides.

“The bottom line is Liverpool would take the FA to court, we haven’t got the money to do that,” he told BBC Radio Cornwall.

“I genuinely believe there’s an element of ‘no-one down there’s going to kick off about it, they’ll be upset for a couple of days but they’ll get on with it’.”

“I understand at the minute there’s more important things in the world going on and it’s a horrific time for so many people, but without sounding selfish we’re devastated by the decision.”

‘Wrong to award promotion’

Nick Robinson is chairman of the Isthmian League which covers steps three and four of non-league in London, the east and south east of England.

There were still a quarter of fixtures left to play in their four divisions when football was halted.

“We thought it would be very wrong to award promotion or punish with relegation when there were so many matches left,” Robinson told BBC Radio Guernsey.

“We’ve said the competitions are now finished and we’re going to look forward to next season.

“What we’ve tried to do is come up with a solution that will fit the vast majority of people.”

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