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As we approach the end of April, over seven weeks since football in Essex came to an indefinite halt, we provide our clubs with an update on various matters currently keeping the Management Committee occupied in these strange times.
Conclusion to league competition for 2019/20
As reported earlier in the month, the FA made the decision to terminate all football for the rest of the 2019/20 season below step 2 of the National League System (NLS) meaning that no further league football would be played this side of the summer. While the fate of football between steps 3 and 7 was decided by the FA themselves in consultation with leagues at that level with null and void being the predicable outcome, below the NLS, this decision was left to county FAs in consultation with local leagues.
Following discussion with Essex County FA on the options that would be available, our Management Committee decided to seek the views from every club in our league with the options of either voiding the season or deciding final league places on a points per game calculation (PPG). This proved a worthwhile exercise and provided a much closer outcome than predicted versus other competitions.
Following our Management Committee meeting over the weekend, we can confirm that by a narrow margin, season 2019/20 will be voided. However, we can confirm that despite this, teams will be moved up (and down) divisions based on performances this season as it would serve no good purpose to repeat the existing divisions. We also have a host of new clubs seeking entry into the league and they will therefore be placed into vacancies within the most appropriate divisions over the coming few weeks.
Continuation of cup competitions for 2019/20
With regard to the cup competitions for 2019/20, the Committee agreed that, with the exception of the Fenton Cup which has been terminated, the divisional cup competitions shall continue so far as is reasonably practical and provided it is does not affect the commencement of the 2020/21 campaign.
More details on the practicalities of these intentions will be released once we have some idea of a date for resuming football activities but we would hope that remaining matches can be played during August with finals in midweek thereafter. This will of course require much assistance from the clubs involved in those competitions to organise and facilitate these fixtures but with many clubs already looking for friendlies, please bear this mind with planning for August.
League fees for 2020/21 season
The Management Committee have additionally agreed to waive the annual subscription fees for all existing teams carrying on into the 2020/21 season, as a gesture of goodwill given the losses that will have been incurred this season. We hope that this will encourage our clubs to start the new season with renewed vigour and lessen the financial burden ever so slightly.
For those who have incurred large losses, particularly on payment of facilities which have not been able to be used, Sport England have implemented a Coronavirus Community Emergency Fund accessible by all sports clubs to apply for a payment to cover these costs. For more information, please visit their website: https://www.sportengland.org/how-we-can-help/our-funds/community-emergency-fund
Step 7 application update
In addition to the many other things occupying us over the past few weeks, we have sought an update from the FA with regard to our application to attain Regional Feeder League (Step 7) status for the 2020/21 season onwards. The FA’s Leagues Committee had been due to make a decision on this application at their April meeting but other more pressing matters naturally took precedence and we are now told to expect a decision to be made at their May meeting instead.
We are very aware of the importance of this decision and the impact on clubs in our league, particularly those moving to new venues to meet the grading requirements. Along with this, a league season at Step 7 level would ordinarily commence in mid-August so would have a big impact on pre-season planning and indeed the completion of the 2019/20 cup competitions mentioned earlier. As soon as we have a decision, we will of course be in touch to relay this to all clubs.
For the time being, we sincerely hope that you are all well and adapting to this new, temporary lifestyle. There remains much optimism for the new season with many plans afoot to continue our upwards growth and deliver an enjoyable experience for all participants in our league. We look forward to seeing you all soon!