Potential for further delays to non-league season as government drags its heels over fans in grounds

PUBLISHED: 10:51 18 August 2020 | UPDATED: 10:52 18 August 2020

Non-league football could be delayed further as decision over fans remains unresolved. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Non-league football could be delayed further as decision over fans remains unresolved. Picture: KARYN HADDON

Archant

Non-league football could be delayed further – as the government delay a decision to let fans in.

As it stands the season for clubs like Colney Heath, London Colney and Harpenden Town in the Spartan South Midlands League will begin on September 5.

But the government has not made a decision on whether fans will be let in yet, despite having the proposals for almost two weeks, and leagues at steps five and six have said that if a decision is not reached by Friday then they will push the start date back by a week.

The Eastern Counties League said on their website: “The leagues have been made aware that the FA’s proposal for the return of spectators to games at steps three to seven was put to Number 10 on August 6.

“A response is anticipated imminently but there are no guarantees and there is also no guarantee that the response will be a positive one.

“It was suggested that clubs should lobby their local MP to try and encourage some progress.

“We are still planning to start on September 5 but if no positive response is received by Friday then the league start will be deferred to September 12.

“We would hope to give clubs a minimum of two weeks’ notice, so if nothing is heard by August 28 then the start will be deferred to September 19 and so on.”

They did say that “irrespective of the decision regarding the admission of spectators” the FA Cup ties will take place as scheduled and behind closed doors if necessary.

The National League South season, featuring St Albans City, will begin on October 3.

The Isthmian League meanwhile, home of Potters Bar Town, have given a number of scenarios that could be implemented if the season is delayed further.

They are set to start on September 19, the same as the Southern League of Hitchin Town and Royston Town, and finish on May 8, however, the alternatives see October 3, 10 and 17 as start dates with the last game on May 15.

The last two of those scenarios would also have the top two only going up and no play-offs.

There is also an option of a half season, with the divisions split in two, and only half of the expected games played.

They said: “All of the above is subject to change because nothing about the situation we are living through at the moment can ever be certain.

“What we can confirm to you is that the leagues and the FA continue to pressure DCMS to approve the return of paying fans for the league seasons to start on September 19 and to confirm any limitations around this that they require.”


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