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Further clarity on the outcome of the non-league season

Clubs at Steps 3 to 6 of non-league have received some clarity on their future, following the FA’s decision to curtail the 2020-21 season with immediate effect, but uncertainty remains at National League North and South level, where a group of clubs have launched a legal challenge to the league’s decision to declare the season null and void.

In an announcement last week, the National League confirmed that the clubs that make up Step 2 had voted to end the season while the National League’s top flight would continue to play out their remaining fixtures.

A group of clubs, led by Dorking Wanderers, have written to the National League and FA this week to contest the decision, claiming that the process by which the National League arrived at its decision was not compliant with its own rules.

Fixtures at Step 2 are currently cancelled, and it’s not known when the outcome of the appeal will be decided.

Further down non-league, however, there is more certainty.

Following a consultation to which more than 95% of the 800+ clubs who make up Steps 3 to 6 responded, the FA decided that extending the current season beyond the end of May would not be viable in the current circumstances.

In a statement announcing the decision, the FA said: “Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of COVID-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, our alliance and leagues committees have reached a consensus that, subject to the approval of FA Council, the 2020-21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the National League System should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season.”

Tom Greatrex, FSA vice-chair and one of the FSA’s two fan representatives on the FA Council, who is a member of the alliance committee said: “We have said from the start of the pandemic that after ensuring the health and wellbeing of the players, staff, volunteers and fans at non-league, the focus should be on preserving clubs, so that they are able to survive the financial effects of COVID-19.

“There was a very real threat to the continued existence of dozens of clubs, and we are pleased that the alliance and leagues committees listened to our calls for consultation, which has led to a result which has brought everyone together and will allow clubs to plan accordingly.

“Nobody wants to see football cancelled, least of all ourselves as football fans, but we believe this is the best outcome to ensure that clubs will be able to weather the coming months and continue to serve their communities for years to come.”

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