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Football clubs around Grantham set to have their say on how the season is decided

Non-league clubs across the area are set to get the chance to have their say on the future of their season.

Both Grantham Town and Harrowby United have faced a lengthy spell on the sidelines this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Gingerbreads haven’t played a Pitching In Northern Premier League match since their 0-0 draw at home to Stalybridge Celtic on November 3, while the Arrows’ last league fixture on October 27 was a 3-2 win at Whittlesey Athletic.

Ryan Holland looks to defend one v one (43512800)
Ryan Holland looks to defend one v one (43512800)

The Trident Leagues – which incorporates the Northern, Southern and Isthmian leagues – announced last week that it was their view that the season should cease immediately and be declared null and void.

However, in order to reach a decision, clubs have been asked for their views and had until today to respond.

The survey starts with clubs being asked if they hold an immediate view as to what should happen to the 2020/21 season.

The option is there for clubs to agree to terminate the season which would then be declared null and void with results and playing records expunged with no promotion or relegation.

An alternative sees the fixtures ceasing immediately with a restart planned for August 2021 with the aim of completing this season.

Existing results from this season would be carried over with the promotion and relegation issues delayed rather than removed.

Clubs who are against terminating the season immediately will then have to outline their intentions should they be able to resume competitive fixtures by March 1.

This includes completing the season as normal with the campaigns being extended to May 31 with play-offs, promotion and relegation.

Clubs will be required to play up to three matches a week with this option and the leagues would require 100 per cent of the games to be completed.

Another option would be trying to complete as much as the current season as possible by May 31 with points per game then being applied to decide the major issues if the full quota of fixtures were not fulfilled. The minimum threshold of completed fixtures would also have to be agreed to trigger this decision.

An alternative format could see the previous results from the 2020/21 campaign expunged if a club had already played each other twice, but that does bring potential competition integrity issues into play as it would differ from what clubs had initially
entered into.

Clubs will also be canvassed on their thoughts if they are not able to resume competitive fixtures until after April 1 under a similar process.

Grantham Town chairman, Darren Ashton, said: “As a club, we feel that unfortunately that null and void is the only solution. We’ve played eight league matches so far. The league is suspended up to March 6 and that’s four months of no regular football or training. A pre-season is going to be needed before we think about restarting. That potentially will take us to the start of April and if the season ends at the end of May. It’s just not feasible for the players who also have a “normal” job.

“On top of that we’d have to come out of this latest lockdown and go straight into Tier 2 as we need to have the secondary income from both allowing fans in and opening the bar and food hut.

“It’s already indicated by Government that it will be a slow process back to “normality” and we just can’t see it being possible to start the season again”

Although the United Counties League have signalled their intentions to try and continue with the season once the Covid regulations allow, that decision might be taken out of their hands by the higher leagues because a ‘null and void’ ruling would end any hopes of promotion and have a knock-on effect throughout the non-league pyramid.

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