The uncertainty of Non-League football
Coronavirus has had a massive impact on sports world wide, with events being postponed and some even being cancelled. From football to Formula 1 to golf, the sporting world has been majorly impacted. Of course, the biggest events in sports took a major hit but what about the clubs and teams that have a much smaller following, Non-league football being one of them. On the 22nd of April 2020, the National League announced that all remaining fixtures had been cancelled with the season no longer continuing. This would be the same for the National League North and the National League South with all divisions below being null and void, leaving fans in debate. With the season no longer continuing, the final table would be decided by a points per game system, which was also used for leagues 1 and 2, with some teams being relegated by less than a point. With so much uncertainty before the new season even began, the government announced that they would fund money for small clubs so that no club would go bust. The National League, the National League North and the National League South decided to have a delayed start to the season so fans would hopefully be able to attend, however this was not the case, and the season began behind closed doors. During this time, Macclesfield Town couldn’t afford to start the season and went into liquidation, meaning only 23 teams would compete in the 2020/2021 national league season.
With all the leagues below the 6th tier being classed as ‘non-elite', fans could attend matches but with no more than 1000 fans. However, this didn’t last long as the country went into a second lockdown, all non-elite football was stopped and after so much uncertainty the leagues decided to null and void the season. The National League and the National League North and South were able to continue through the lockdowns. Despite there being no fans, the new season began but it has been far from plain sailing with matches being postponed nearly every week due to an outbreak at different clubs with most of the squad having to self-isolate. This started to cause a fixture pile up for quite a lot of teams. At the start of January, some teams came out and said that they will no longer continue playing as they are no longer getting funds from the government. Bath City, Slough and Dulwich Hamlet are just a few teams in the national league south who refused to play. With so much uncertainty, on January 22nd it was announced that both the National League North and National League South would be postponed for two weeks. Once the leagues resumed, teams would still refuse to play. Ebbsfleet United Vs Bath City was called off despite Ebbsfleet offering to pay for the travel, just so the game could go ahead. Maidstone recently announced that they had furloughed all players and staff members, but also had signed a whole new squad to play for free just so they could play all the remaining fixtures. National League side Dover Athletic announced that they will also be furloughing all staff and players but will not be continuing with the season. It is feared that this will not be the last club to be affected and some teams may not even survive. There is soon to be a vote on whether the season will continue, but no date has been confirmed.
Written by Katie Humphris