McAvoy confident Ely City can make strides despite uncertainty over season start date
- Credit: Archant
Ely City joint-manager Luke McAvoy was surprised that his side could return to action before next year, but is confident they can get back to normality sooner rather than later.
The FA spoke to leagues across step five and six of the non-league pyramid last week, including the Thurlow Nunn League which Ely play in, to discuss possible scenarios for a potential restart date.
Some of the ideas discussed include starting in August, when a normal season would begin, as well as in September or later, and clubs across steps one to seven must play in front of spectators.
However, there will be no league or county cups played if the season starts later than August, where clubs may miss out on playing in national competitions such as the FA Cup and FA Vase, which can make a major difference to clubs off the pitch.
“We were always led to believe we were going to start in January, so I was surprised,” McAvoy said.
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“I think the aim is to start in September, because that’s the latest they can start the FA Cup. If they have to start any later than that, we’d probably lose the FA Cup, which is a blow because it’s a chance to make some money.
“Everyone just wants to get playing again. I don’t think they’re too worried if it’s a county cup game or another game, it’s if they can get back to some kind of normality playing football.”
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The idea of splitting leagues into geographical divisions was also mentioned at the virtual meeting if the season could not begin until between November and January.
McAvoy is optimistic all of last season’s squad will sign on for the 2020-21 campaign, and with plenty of work being done off the pitch, he believes the team can improve on it as they prepare for pre-season training in July.
“We’ve got our heads set on starting as normal in September, and then if it gets moved, we’ll plan for the change,” he said.
“Without the fans paying on the gate, buying food and drink, you’re not going to have any money, so they’ve got to let the fans in, otherwise I think they’d not be able to restart the league.
“All the volunteers have got together and done an amazing job. It’s given everybody a lift.
“We’re hopeful that we can push on and look to get away from the relegation battle and be safe in mid-table, where we can be more competitive each week.
“My worry is some players might not even bother playing football. They’ve had so long off, they might find something else to do, but we’re confident so hopefully we can get started sooner rather than later.”