Common sense must prevail to end the season, says Ely City secretary

Ely City vote to end non-league season

Ely City have voted to end the 2020-21 season due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. - Credit: Daniel Mason/Archant

If common sense prevails, most clubs will declare the 2020-21 season null and void. 

That’s the view of Derek Oakey, secretary at Ely City FC, who have voted to end the campaign early due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Clubs between steps three to six of the non-league pyramid, including the Eastern Counties League that Ely play in, were asked by the FA on whether or not to curtail the current season for a second year running. 

In that survey, 95.8 per cent of step five and six clubs replied, and for Ely, there was no other alternative. 

“If people are going to use common sense, I think they’ll call it a day,” he said. 

“We had a discussion amongst the committee and our decision was that people’s health comes before football. 

“We’ve got to think about people’s health and the NHS. It’s just a game of football, and as much as I love it, there are other priorities in this world.” 

Ely City clubhouse

Ely City have previously received funding for on and off-field improvements, and also refurbished their clubhouse during the summer of 2020. - Credit: Daniel Mason/Archant

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Ely’s first-team, who sit fifth in the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division, have 26 league games to play while the club’s reserve and A teams have seen their Cambridgeshire County League campaigns halted. 

The FA said they will need time to analyse the voting intentions of clubs before deciding whether or not to resume the season, which Oakey thinks will be tough. 

“It’s logistically unfair on players and committees to prepare pitches, clean dressing rooms, wash kit two or three times a week every week,” he said. 

“I think it was right to give us the opportunity to voice our opinion.” 

Oakey said the Robins could receive £10,500 as part of a £10 million government grant for non-league clubs below elite level. 

The club has previously won funding throughout the pandemic and are also considering playing mini tournaments once lockdown eases. 

With more financial support, Oakey is confident City will be ready for whenever they can return to action. 

“I think councils, the FA and the government have been kind to sport in general, not just football. I think they’ve done their bit for us,” he said. 

“We’re already looking at arranging one or two pre-season tournaments and I think with what we’ve had, if it’s managed properly, we should be alright until we do get rolling again.”