Project Restart!

By Ian Townsend

We map out the scenarios for the return of football

Isthmian League Chairman Nick Robinson has today written to all of our clubs to map out the way we plan to return to football- as soon as the Government gives the go-ahead.

In his letter, Nick explains that the FA have made a number of proposals to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, and that these have been well received, but that the final decisions about our big kick off will need to come from central Government. Dependent on when those decisions are made, we have five/six possible scenarios, as follows:

Scenario One:
Steps 3 & 4 season starts on 19th September, finishes 8th May with Play-Offs the following week. Deadline for decision – Friday 21st August.

If it is not possible to start on 19th September, 26th September is FA Trophy, so…


Scenario 2

Steps 3 & 4 season starts on 3rd October, finishes 15th May with Play-Offs the following week. Deadline for decision – Friday 4th September.

If it is not possible to start on 3rd October…

Scenario 3

Steps 3 & 4 season starts on 10th October, finishing 15th May. No Play-Offs: top two clubs promoted. Deadline for decision – Friday 11th September.

Scenario 4

Steps 3 & 4 season starts on 17th October, finishing 15th May. No Play-Offs: top two clubs promoted. Deadline for decision – Friday 18th September.

If it is not possible to start on 17th October…

Scenario 5

Scenario 5 is subject to FA regulatory approval and will require changes to the NLS Regulations and Standardised Rules, which also require FA Council approval.

Deadline for decision – TBC.

At this point a full fixture programme is not possible without unreasonable levels of midweek and away travel. So, each Step 3 and 4 division is split into two smaller divisions, every club playing each other home and away to create a ‘half’ season, at the end of which, the split divisions are re-merged based on points per game.

The top five clubs will then play a Champions League style round-robin (ideally home and away) with the top 2 clubs promoted.

The lowest ranked five will play each other, home and away, with the necessary number of clubs (i.e. reflecting withdrawals or resignations) being relegated. Clubs not featuring in Champion or Relegation Play-Offs will be able to enter a voluntary cup competition.

We hope we won't need a Scenario 6, but if it is not possible to start until January 2021, The Alliance Committee will determine if and how the season will be played out following consultation with the member clubs of the Northern Premier League, Southern Football League and the Isthmian League by the Leagues. Any decision of the Alliance Committee and subsequent changes to the NLS Regulations and Standardised Rules will require the approval of FA Council.

All of the above is subject to change, because nothing about the situation we are living through at the moment can ever be certain. What we can confirm to you is that the Leagues and the FA continue to pressure DCMS to approve the return of paying fans for the league seasons to start on 19th September, and to confirm any limitations around this that they require.

Once we have any further information, you will read it here.

Where next?

Isthmian Supporters Predictions 2020-21: Herne Bay The always irrepressible Ken Dixon gets our series underway- and he's not short of confidence!
A 'Heads Up' from the Palace Duke of Cambridge says thank you to the League for our support for the Mentally Healthy Football Declaration

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