Coronavirus: Western League calls for season to be “abandoned”

ONE of the leagues operating divisions at the same levels as City and Raiders has called for the current season to be scrapped ahead of talks with the FA.

Officials from all leagues at steps five and six of the National League System, including the Midland Football League and West Midlands (Regional) League, will be consulted on what to do about the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic tomorrow (Tuesday, March 24).

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The problem arrives ahead of a summer in which a reshuffle of the leagues is due to take place with three extra divisions to be added, one at the level above City’s and two in English football’s ninth tier.

Seven runners-up with the worst playing records in 11 of the leagues at City’s level are due to go into play-offs with teams finishing bottom of the level above, while the two best-performing bottom-placed finishers at step five should escape relegation.

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All of those things will be decided on a points-per-game basis, dividing points gained by the number of matches played.

At step six, the level Raiders play at, the top four teams are supposed to be getting promotion, significantly up from the usual one.

If play does not resume and the league placings are decided on points per game, meaningful positions could change based on averages even though teams would have completed different fixtures.

And it is those concerns that the Western Football League, which covers most of the patch from Bristol down to the south-west corner of England, highlights in a statement ahead of its contribution to the conference call.

It read: “There is a range of possibilities and whichever one is finally decided upon, it is inevitable that some clubs and possibly leagues will be disappointed by the final decision.

“The view of the Western League is that the current season should be abandoned and no promotion or relegation takes place, in effect making the 2019-20 season void.

“The 2020-21 season should then commence (hopefully on time) with league constitutions exactly as they were for the start of the current season.

“We see a problem with drawing a line under the season and then promoting and relegating teams on a points-per-game basis.

“Clubs placed just below the promotion places could rightly argue that with so many games still left to play, they would have a realistic chance of promotion.

“Equally, clubs in a relegation position could argue they could overhaul clubs above them with so many matches still to be played.

“There would also be an issue with trying to hold play-off matches at a yet-undetermined time in readiness for the 2020-21 season.”

*What do you make of the Western League’s stance? Comment below or on Twitter or Facebook.

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