As coronavirus concerns grow, key figures in non-league football are meeting with the FA this week to discuss how to finish the season.
Senior representatives from the National League also met with the FA on Monday, according to Simon Stone of BBC Sport. Figures from the other leagues are set to meet with them this week.
FA Discussing How to Resolve Non-League Season Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
The National League’s Coronavirus Controversy
Six National League games were played just a day after the EFL and Premier League announced that league football was to be suspended until April 3rd. This included Notts County’s comfortable 4-0 win over Eastleigh and Chesterfield’s draw at Dover. After the game, Spireites caretaker boss John Pemberton blasted the National League’s decision not to postpone their match.
Following the backlash, the National League decided to postpone all of their games until April 3.
Last week, the FA, Premier League and EFL then moved to suspend all league football until at least April 30. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that non-league football will continue before that date.
Financial Trouble for Non-League Clubs
BBC Sport claims that the season could be brought to an early end. That’s because most non-league clubs can’t afford to keep paying player’s contracts whilst not knowing when their next games will be. Last week, Barnet were forced to make all non-playing staff redundant as they won’t be earning any income from matchday activities.
If matches continue behind closed doors, that too could have devastating financial implications for non-league clubs. The situation is a real mess and finding a solution won’t be easy.
Promotion Could Be a Key Issue
In addition to that, there’s also the issue of promotion to League Two. There are currently only 71 clubs in the EFL after Bury were evicted summer, so at least one club has to be promoted from the National League. But if the season finishes now, who goes up?
Barrow are currently top of the fifth tier, and it’s claimed that they could be handed promotion and play-offs could be scrapped if the season finishes early. Usually, the champions go up automatically, and the teams who finish between second and seventh are in the play-offs.
However, Harrogate Town and Notts County may claim that’s unfair. Harrogate are second, only four points behind them the Cumbrian outfit. Third-placed County are seven points off Barrow having played a game more than them. But they’re the form team in the league after winning five games in a row.
Whatever decision the authorities make, it won’t please everybody.