Chichester City vote for null and void non-league season to protect ‘sporting integrity’

Chichester City have only played five Isthmian League games this season.Chichester City have only played five Isthmian League games this season.
Chichester City have only played five Isthmian League games this season.
Chichester City have added their name to the list of clubs suggesting null and void is the only way to bring another non-league season to an unsatisfactory close.

The step 4 club’s chairman, Andy Bell, believes that is the only possible course of action to protect the ‘integrity’ of their Isthmian League South East season.

The FA is currently considering a mass of response from clubs at steps 3-6 of the non-league pyramid following the issuing of a survey earlier this month.

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The questionnaire - as to how clubs wished to end a pandemic-wrecked campaign - was returned by 99.1 per cent of clubs at steps 3 and 4 and 95.8 per cent of clubs at steps 5 and 6.

The governing body’s Alliance & Leagues Committees will now use the information to put forward a proposal to FA Council, who will make any final decision.

No decision on whether to terminate the league or pursue another option – such as combining results from the last two seasons or restarting 2020/21 in August – is expected for a week or two.

Bell said: ‘I can’t see our level of football playing again this season.

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‘You only have to look back at last year and the amount of time it took between the number of virus cases being at its highest and things like the pubs reopening.

‘Things don’t just start up again overnight.

‘We’ve seen the effect of Covid locally much more in this wave and football just has to take a back seat.

‘I know we’re semi-pro but it’s a hobby at this level. We have to protect everyone involved with the club.

‘The club’s point of view, and my personal point of view, is the null and void route.

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‘A big part of it is sporting integrity and is there really much integrity in playing some games, stopping, playing some more then maybe stopping again and no-one knowing what they’re aiming towards?

‘I think starting again next season – and hopefully that can be in August – is the way to go.’

Chichester - managed by ex-Moneyfields boss Miles Rutherford - have only played five league games this season, with their division having been suspended since the end of October.

Yesterday the Government announced a £10m grant package for clubs at steps 3-6 and clubs will have to apply for a share of the kitty.

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Bell said the club’s FA Cup prize money from last season plus government and local authority financial aid during lockdown had been a blessing.

‘We have lost a lot of money through not having any activity going on but we will be okay,’ he said.

‘Null and void would be disappointing but we accepted it last season, when we could have got in the play-offs if the season had finished.

‘We’ve stagnated but will be ready to come back strong when football returns.’

Wessex League trio Baffins Milton, AFC Portchester and Horndean have all said the 2020/21 season should be declared null and void for the second season running.