How does the season end? Part 1
How does the season end? Part 1

Following today’s announcements that Steps 3 – 6 in non-league football intend to end their season immediately some of the Kent Sports News football writers sat down to explore what they believe should happen at the National League Level.

Both the Isthmian league and sisters leagues of SCEFL at step 5 have made it clear they are ending their seasons with decisions to be made as to whether the whole season is declared null and void or whether promotios and relegations are decided by PPG (points per game average).

Interestingly the National League have thus far made it clear they intend their member clubs to see out the season and do not agree with the decisions made lower down the pyramid. This almost certainly ensures that acrimonious discussions lay ahead. The announcements have already sparked intense debate amongst fans, player, managers and officials in non-league.

Foootball journalists Colin Head, Ryan Clark and Mark Doig spoke with editor Machel Hewitt to discuss the key questions surrounding the future of the National League.

Cutting straight to the chase gents, you only have two options which one are you choosing and why a) declare the National League season null and void or b) complete it no matter what?

RC: I think it all depends on how long this all lasts. I think it is only fair that the season is completed, however if we get to August/September time and football hasn’t resumed then the option to write off the season has to be taken into consideration. 

To answer your question however, I believe everything has to be done to make sure the season is completed as it is only fair to the clubs who have played so well all season to be in with a chance of promotion.

Although this could be challenged by people who could say end the season with each team in the place they are currently in, therefore teams in promotions spots at the moment go up. Would that be unfair on teams in the relegation zone if the season is concluded with games remaining? Would it be right to relegate them when they still have a chance to stay up. In short, the season must be completed as it is the only fair thing!

CH: a) the season is done.

MD: a) Declare the season null and void. I know that is tough on the clubs that are running away with their leagues and the teams who are in the drop zone will strike it lucky, but this is a one-off world pandemic and is far more important than football. 

At the top levels of the game we have seen a commitment by the Premier League and EFL to see the season out no matter what it takes is this feasible at step 1 and 2 of the non-league game?

CH: Definitely not, it should have been called over already. It’s unfair on the players who will have other commitments and is a contractual nightmare. 

RC: It would be feasible as long as clubs get help off the pitch from the governing bodies to make sure they stay alive financially. PL teams are fine to wait for as long as it takes, but for teams in the National League this isnt the case. A lot of NL teams rely on matchday revenue to survive, if that is gone for the foreseeable future, how do they keep the club running? We’ve already seen it with the likes of Barnet, who have put all their non-playing staff on notice. So sadly waiting as long as possible to see the season out might not be feasible for teams in the non-league game.  

MD: It is not feasible at any level as far as I’m concerned. It could be months, rather than weeks, before life returns to some semblance of normality. Also some clubs have pitches that are in a bad state and need the summer to repair them. How could they do that without at least a month of no football. The leagues that have finished now will want to kick off as normal next season. How will that work if other leagues are still going on?

If we don’t see the season out and the head honchos of the National League decide not to null and void the league, how would you decide relegation and promotion?

MD: I suppose that they would have to do it on a points per game average and with no play-offs it would be the first two (in leagues where two go up). Personally, I don’t think that there should be any promotion or relegation but supporters of clubs that are now in a strong position, are unlikely to agree with me.

RC: I think it will all come down to what the Football League decide to do. If they get their competitions to an end, with teams getting relegated to the NL, teams would also have to go up. If this is the case then although it’s not the best for some clubs, the teams in promotion/relegation places now will be the teams to go up/down. 

CH: It has to be points per game ratio. Promote the top two and relegate the bottom four. 

In part 2 the writers look the financial bite on non-league clubs and whether some clubs could be in serious trouble, the contract situation for National League clubs and the changes the non-league game should make for when football returns.