Over 60 clubs from non-league and grassroots football have written to the Football Association to express their “profound concern and displeasure” with the decision to expunge all results for the 2019-20 season.
The FA has faced criticism having voided the season for non-league divisions below the National League and National League North and South, and for women’s football below the Women’s Super League and Championship, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson last week said he would consider legal action over the ruling, which is yet to be ratified by the FA Council, with his club now one of 64 to sign a letter to the governing body.
📰 A joint letter signed by more than 60 clubs across the country has today been sent to the @FA questioning the decision to void the season at steps three to six of non-league, and at various levels of the women's game.— South Shields FC (@SouthShieldsFC) March 30, 2020
The letter accuses the FA of acting with “needless and inexplicable haste” and said this was “coupled with (a) total lack of substantive dialogue or consultation with affected clubs”.
The letter also claimed that clubs in steps one and two of the National League System – the National League and National League North and South – “were removed from the ruling at the 11th hour” and asked: “How can the FA possibly justify treating different steps under the non-league banner differently?”
Signatories to the letter said they agreed with the decision to halt play during the ongoing health crisis, but could not understand why results were voided in the lower leagues while the Premier League, EFL and others remain on hold with the hope of completing the season.
“Most clubs in steps three to six have now completed 70-80 per cent of their league fixtures, and it is incomprehensible that these results should be delegitimised and expunged on the basis that the final quarter of the season cannot be fulfilled in the future,” the letter said.
“Our demand for the FA to reconsider its decision is also about sending a message to the fans of our clubs, who have spent hard-earned money to follow their teams up and down the country, letting them know their support was not in vain.”
Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors, two clubs who had mathematically achieved promotion from their respective divisions this season, are among the signatories to the letter, but others said they were doing it to protect the integrity of competition.
They pointed to the FA’s stated desire to complete the FA Trophy, despite the fact one semi-final will pit Southern Central Division One side Halesowen Town – whose season stands to be voided – against National League South side Concord Rangers – whose campaign remains valid.
The letter also rejected the FA’s assertion in its own statement it “reached a consensus” with steps three to six of the National League System, saying many clubs were against the move while others were not properly consulted.
“A crisis like this is a watershed moment for the FA and the relationships it chooses to have with non-league and grassroots football,” the letter said.
An FA spokesperson said: “The decision taken to end the 2019-20 season across Steps 3-7 of the National League System, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women’s Board.
“It will now go to the FA Council for ratification. We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football.”
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