Waiting game for Hampshire Premier League clubs ahead of proposal on how to complete 2020/21 season

Clubs in the Hampshire Premier League are to be contacted by the end of this week with a proposal over how to complete the 2020-21 season.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 2:02 pm
Jay Eames, right, in action for Paulsgrove against Bush Hill in December. HPL clubs will be told on Friday the proposal(s) for finishing the 2020/21 campaign. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

The HPL held a 'positive' meeting with the Hampshire FA last night and will now push forward with plans over how to get the league restarted.

League officials are holding a committee discussion tomorrow night before informing clubs of the proposal(s) available to them ahead of a season resumption.

HPL secretary Steve Smith said: 'It was a good meeting.

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‘They (Hampshire FA) were very helpful and they were willing to go the extra mile to try to help us do whatever we wanted to do. It’s all you can ask for from them.

‘We’re going back to our committee on Thursday and make a proposal which will hopefully go out to the clubs on Friday.

'Whatever happens we’re going to make a decision on Thursday what proposal or proposals we go with and then put that to the clubs.'

But Smith said clubs will likely be given until mid-April before being asked to resume competitive action.

Teams are permitted to resume training and playing from March 29 under the government roadmap to easing lockdown restrictions, although the HPL are likely to give its 31 member clubs a couple of weeks and then schedule a resumption date.

Smith added: 'You can’t just say, ‘right, off you go’, you’ve got to give the lads a week or two to undertake a bit of training or a warm-up friendly before everything starts again.

‘The proposal will be to give them a period - after March 29 - to do a bit of training and maybe play a friendly if they want to.'

The league has the green light from the FA to carry on playing fixtures into June if they want.

That might still not be enough time, though, to complete the 2020/21 fixture list.

An April 10 restart would provide 12 Saturdays and 11 midweeks in which to fit in all the matches.

Liphook still have 21 Senior Division games to play and Paulsgrove have 20. In Division 1, Harvest and AFC Netley also have 20 matches left.

One option would be just to play each other once, though Locks Heath and Overton have already played each other twice. They are the only two of the 31 clubs to have already completed half their league fixtures.

If finishing the season is not possible, another option could be to reach a certain threshold of matches before deciding finishing positions via a points-per-game methodology.

In the top flight, for example, each club would play 75 per cent of their fixtures if they managed to complete 23 of their 30 matches.

The HPL could also adopt the proposal put forward by another step 7 league, the Thames Valley Premier. They are restarting on April 10 and continuing until June 26, and if the fixture list is not completed by then PPG will be used to determine finishing places.

Elsewhere, the Liverpool County Premier League - also at step 7 - will start a new season in April, playing each other once with all previous results voided.

It would be interesting to see how much appetite there would be for something similar in the HPL, given Paulsgrove and Infinity are still unbeaten while Lyndhurst have suffered 13 successive defeats.

Of course, one other option would be to null and void the 2020/21 season, as many step 7 leagues have already done - including the Herts Senior County League, the North Riding League, the Gloucestershire County League, the Leicestershire Senior League, the Cambridgeshire County League, the York League, the Peterborough & District League and the Surrey Elite Intermediate League.