Isthmian League statement- 24th March 2020

By Ian Townsend

Discussions continue on how the season will end

A statement has been sent to all of our clubs by Nick Robinson, Chair of the Isthmian League. It covers issues around how the season will end, player contracts and Government support. We don't propose to repeat all of the detail here as much of it will be of interest only to clubs, but the main points around discussions on how we end the season are worthy of sharing. Nick explains:

'The Alliance Leagues held the latest of several conference calls last night (Monday) after our own Board, and those of the Northern Premier and Southern Leagues, met over the weekend to determine how we wish to proceed. We have also participated in calls with the Step 5/6 clubs.

The Step 3 & 4 Leagues share Clubs’ frustration that it is taking so long to determine whether the 2019/20 season is to end now, and if so on what basis. To maintain the integrity of our competitions, we ideally need to apply one solution across the whole of the National League System. However, this may not be possible.

The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019-20 season immediately. The Step 5/6 Leagues also support the immediate termination of the season.
Whether that is done on the basis of determining final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null & void cannot be determined until the National League decides how it wishes to proceed.

Right now, we believe that the National League’s position is that they wish to be able to resume the 2019-20 season at some point. The feeder Leagues do not support this because our Clubs do not have the financial resources to continue to honour Player contracts indefinitely.

The Step 3 and 4 Leagues have therefore commenced the process to terminate the season. This has to be ratified by the FA Council, so there may be a short delay as the relevant documentation is submitted, distributed and approved.

Whilst this process is on-going, and once the National League has finalised how it wishes to proceed, competition issues can then be decided, together with the implications for promotion and relegation.

As soon as the National League’s position is finalised, we will be able to confirm the basis on which the 2019-20 season has ended. As I have already pointed out, we need as much commonality across the National League System as possible.

The FA is currently reviewing its Rules to understand whether any emergency changes are required for season 2019/2020 which impact on player contracts, registration deadlines and retention/offers of re-engagement in the National League System. Given the fast-moving nature of the existing situation this work is ongoing.

Finally, at this very difficult time, I hope that you and your families will stay safe.'

Once we have more information about this matter, we will bring it to you as quickly as we can.

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