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Spalding United's league facing up to full season not being completed

Clubs in the Northern Premier League, in which Spalding United play, may be asked for views on how to finish the 2020/21 football season.

After starting late because of coronavirus, the league lost the whole of November to a second lockdown, and the playing of any games in December now seems highly unlikely.

If the tier system is not dramatically changed in the Government's December 16 and December 30 reviews, it seems highly unlikely the league will be able to be completed in its current format and options that may be put to clubs would include an alternative format competition and extending the season, possibly into June 2021.

No games were played in November, and action in December now looks unlikely. (43419272)
No games were played in November, and action in December now looks unlikely. (43419272)

A statement issued this evening by the Trident Leagues (Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern League) read as follows:

"Following the statement issued yesterday, further clarification can now be given in relation to the voting following the Zoom meetings held by all three Trident Leagues with their member clubs to discuss the impact of the raising of the lockdown on December 2.

"There were 224 clubs voting across the three leagues and of these, 172 agreed with the proposition to continue the pause in fixtures, 51 disagreed and there was one abstention.

"Broken down by league, 57 clubs in the Northern Premier League voted to agree, with fourdisagreeing, 68 clubs in the Southern League agreed, with 14 disagreeing, and in the Isthmian League it was much closer with 47 clubs agreeing, 33 disagreeing and one abstention.

"The 'agree' vote was therefore 76% and it has been agreed that the three leagues will not sanction fixtures at this time.

"It is intended that the situation is kept under review in line with Government review on the tier allocations and restrictions. Accordingly, the next review is set for December 16 and then December 30.

"It is the hope of all the leagues that a date in January can be set for a return to fixtures, with clubs who wish being allowed to play before that date, but this will not be until there is a change in the tiers and/or some progress in the funding of the clubs at this level.

"The Government has allocated £25m to Sport England to fund Steps 1 to 6 of the National Leagues System, of which £14m is set for Steps 3-6 but is heavily weighted in favour of loans, not grants.

"The FA is working tirelessly with DCMS (the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) and Sport England to have the funding presented as grants. However, these negotiations take time, and it is not expected to have an answer or clarification of details of even the loans until mid-January.

"The deep concern of all involved in the NLS (National League System) is that circumstances may mean that it is not possible to conclude the current format of competition in a manner in which promotion and relegation can be achieved throughout the whole pyramid with Step 2 being brought up to 48 Clubs and Step 4 brought up to 240 Clubs.

"If, therefore, no progress is made by the Government on the tiers in either of the two December reviews, it is the intention of the Alliance Committee to circulate those concerned with a survey to gather the views of the clubs as how best to finish the season.

"Options will include an alternative format competition and extending the season, possibly into June 2021. However, the implications of all such proposals will involve the cost of players' contracts and the ability of some clubs to continue playing because of other issues of grounds and the need to prepare grass pitches for the following season.

"The Leagues are mindful of the needs of all clubs and are striving to find a solution which is fair to all."

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