Isthmian League reveal why they want to terminate non-league football 'at the earliest opportunity'

Referee shows a red card in a Premier League game

Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson has explained why he believes the season should be made null and void again. - Credit: MIKE EGERTON/PA

The chairman of the Isthmian League has given his justification on why they desire to declare non-league football null and void for the second successive season.  

Nick Robinson wrote to all member clubs , spelling out "several misconceptions evidenced by some club statements", with the majority of the letter published on the league's website.

Last week the trident leagues, the collective name for the Isthmian, Southern and Northern Premier leagues who run divisions at the third and fourth steps of non-league football, said they would survey their clubs but wanted to bring the season to a premature close again.

He said: "All Step three and four clubs can give their views on whether the 2020-21 season should be terminated now and made null and void or, if not, which alternative option they prefer.

"Clubs can also put forward their own ideas as this is not a formal vote in response to a series of fixed options.

"Alongside this consultation, the boards of the trident leagues feel it is important to provide direction to clubs by making clear their unanimous belief that the best way forward is for the season to be terminated and made null and void at the earliest opportunity."

They went on to say that not knowing when the lockdown will end, or what restrictions will follow, mean they don't know if clubs will be allowed to have fans or open their clubhouses. 

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They also say extending the season beyond the end of May would be problematic as "we run into additional problems including players and volunteers wanting to take holidays, grass pitch maintenance and the start of the 2021-22 season, in which the FA Cup qualifying round dates are pre-set to achieve the broadcasters’ target first round date".

This is all aside to "player contracts requiring clubs to pay wages through to the end of the season".

And in terms of the questionnaire they are concerned that "there is an obvious risk that clubs’ views will simply reflect self-interest, so we are looking at how to use statistical analytics to filter out clubs simply taking the easy option."

He also took the time to explain why he felt the alternatives weren't worthwhile.

A split division would make "the financial viability of the number of games that could be played debatable" and would leave the league "well short of even 75 per cent of fixtures required to render a points-per-game calculation viable".

Playing each other once would also suffer the 75 per-cent ruling with the balance between home and away games seeing some clubs "lose out" while merging the results of last year's voided season with this one would require advice from the FA council before it even became an option.

Resuming this season later in the year while providing plenty of time in to get it completed, would have challenges that relate "primarily to player wages, on which we will again seek advice from the FA".

Other alternatives "may have to be discounted due to regulatory issues".

Robinson added: "There’s no escaping the fact that each of these alternatives to termination will require changes to existing rules.

"This takes time and as a league affiliated to the FA, the Isthmian League must abide by all the rules of the association so there is no tear up the rule book option.

"Whatever the process for determining the outcome of this season, we will not satisfy everyone.

"Some clubs say that they want our board to show leadership, whilst others demand that their voices are heard.

"By surveying clubs and providing a steer, we are trying to lead and give clubs the opportunity to express their views."

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