‘FA have treated hard-working people in non-league football with utter contempt’

Non-league clubs unhappy with the FA’s decision to null and void the season from step 3 downwards are pushing ahead with protest plans.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 2:25 pm
Updated Monday, 30th March 2020, 3:29 pm
Worthing (red shirts) in action against East Thurrock. The Sussex club were on course for the National League South prior to the FA null and voiding the 2019/20 season. Picture by Stephen Goodger

Farnham, Northwich 1874 and Worthing are just three who are refusing to accept the governing body’s controversial call to expunge the 2019/20 campaign.

Farnham were second in Division 1 of the Combined Counties League - the same level of the pyramid as Wessex 1 - when the season was halted. They were 14 points adrift of fifth-placed Fleet Spurs, with the top four clubs winning promotion had the season been finished.

‘We believe it is unacceptable to expunge the records of the season when nearly 80 per cent of it had already been completed,’ a Farnham statement said.

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‘The decision was even more puzzling when the CCFL had balloted its clubs prior to the FA’s web conference and just 27 per cent of the clubs that responded backed the option of ending and scrapping the current season.

‘The FA talked of a consensus being reached amongst the leagues for this course of action, but it’s clear the CCFC clubs did not back it and other step 3-6 leagues have since stated they did not support this option which we believe is treating the hard work of hundreds of people with utter contempt.

‘With this in mind, Farnham Town, along with a group of other clubs across steps 3-7 of the non-league system are currently in the process of contacting the FA to launch a group appeal against this decision.’

Northwich 1874 were eight points clear at the top of the North West Counties League - the same level of the pyramid as the Wessex League Premier - when the season was halted.

In a statement, chairman Steven Richardson said: ‘The decision to expunge all records with no recognition for the many thousands of man hours that have been put into the last nine months by players, coaches, club officials and supporters is something we find totally unacceptable.

‘We believe that this decision has been made in haste, without proper consultation, and that fairer, more workable solutions should be considered prior to a final decision being made.

‘To this end, Northwich 1874 are placing our full support behind the growing list of non-league clubs from all over the country who are currently petitioning the FA to reconsider this ill-thought out decision.’

Richardson added that NWCL chairman Paul Lawlor and his management team are ‘extremely unhappy with the current situation.’

Worthing were seven points clear at the top of the Isthmian Premier - the same level of the pyramid as Southern Premier South outfit Gosport Borough - with eight games remaining.

Chairman Barry Hunter said in a statement: ‘It’s our intention to ensure our voice is heard.

‘There are several ways we will do this, both individually as a club and collectively with a growing swathe of other clubs joining the cause.

‘Indeed we are in touch and working with a number of clubs to deliver our message to the FA.

‘Our view as a management committee is that, had we had the ability to provide input, we would have strongly advised that the season should not have been declared null and void.

‘Instead, we unanimously agree that it should be allowed to conclude whenever safe to do so. That way a number of things could be achieved.

‘1. It would be a fair way of concluding the season.

‘2. Any implications and impact could be pushed into next season, where any treatment can be applied equally to everyone on a level playing field.

‘3. To be treated equally with all clubs throughout the football pyramid, including the professional and National League competition.’