The FA’s decision to null and void the season ‘is a disgrace - everyone involved has been kicked between the legs’ – Portchester chairman Paul Kelly

AFC Portchester chairman Paul Kelly launched a scathing attack on the FA following their decision to expunge the season for clubs at step three levels and below.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:36 pm
AFC Portchester chairman Paul Kelly. Picture: Malcolm Wells

The governing body came to the conclusion on Thursday, meaning no promotion or relegation will be awarded to teams under the National League pyramid with campaigns deemed 'null and void'.

Royals chief Kelly, whose side were in with a chance of promotion to the Southern League for the first time in their history, feels the FA have 'disrespected' all grassroots clubs.

He also cited a loss of income that may mean financial implications for teams in the lower reaches of the pyramid.

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In a statement, he said: ‘Really disappointed at the lack of respect shown by the FA to ALL grassroots football clubs and those involved, including the committees that run the clubs, the manager, his players, the tea lady, physio, kit man and the true supporters of real football.

'The decision to end the season is a disgrace - everyone involved has been kicked between the legs. No consideration has been given to the financial implications for clubs.

'If the season had restarted, possibly in May/June time, clubs at our level would have benefited from bigger gates due to the summer weather, food and beer sales would be up.

'Communities would have supported their clubs because the professional game is priced out of people’s reach after coming out of this crazy virus situation we are all fighting.

'Completing the season would have given promotion/relegation to those who had finished in their respective positions, next season could have started mid-August with the removal of county cups and league cups.

'The FA Cup and FA Vase/Trophy could continue, more midweek games could be played to avoid fixture congestion late on in the season due to weather or any other catastrophic situation.

'I wonder if the FA will reimburse all affiliation fees, cup entries, club and player fines?

'The history of this season will say it was 'expunged'. For those who haven’t yet Googled the word, it means obliterate or remove completely (something unwanted or unpleasant).

'I’m certain a lot of good people at grassroots level will be disappointed about this decision - some may even call it a day and think what a waste of time, money and effort they have wasted.'

Portchester were third in the Wessex League Premier Division when the season was suspended. They trailed leaders Alresford by nine points but did have two games in hand. Below them, fourth-placed Christchurch were 11 points behind Alresford but had four matches in hand.

The FA’s decision to null and void the season has already seen Alresford boss Richard Luffman quit.

‘I made a promise to myself that if we failed to get promoted this season I’d walk away’’ he said. ‘Whilst it wasn’t anything to do with us. I will stick to my decision.

‘We’ve been top of the table all season, been the best team in the league and yet we are punished by the men in suits.

‘I’m hoping this isn’t me done with management, I was genuinely excited to manage in the Southern League next season and I’m gutted it’s been taken away from us.’