THE DARKEST AND SADDEST EVER DAY IN ENGLISH FOOTBALL: We are now advising that all grassroots football in England is postponed for the foreseeable future, says The Football Association

Monday 16th March 2020

MONDAY 16 March 2020 will go down as the DARKEST and SADDEST EVER DAY in English football after The Football Association has confirmed that ALL FOOTBALL has been suspended, until further notice.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation in a statement at around five o’clock this afternoon to confirm his intentions to fight the Coronavirus outbreak that has claimed 55 lives in this country and insisted that “now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel.”

An hour earlier, the Southern Counties East Football League issued a statement saying that midweek games were to go ahead, but have since confirmed that their competition – and every other League – has been suspended following the Prime Minister’s statement.

The Football Association issued a further update regarding the impact of the CONVID-19 outbreak on football in England.

“Following the Government’s announcement today, for people to avoid social contact and gatherings where possible, we are now advising that all grassroots football in England is postponed for the foreseeable future,” said the governing body in their statement.

“Throughout this period, we have taken Government advice with the priority being the health and wellbeing of all. We will continue to work closely with the grassroots game during this time.
“We are in regular communication with the Government and the situation within English football at all levels remains under regular review. Further updates will follow as needed.”

The Premier League, The English Football League and The Isthmian League suspended their competitions last Friday but The National League, Southern Counties East Football League and Kent County League (League’s covered on this website) went ahead at the weekend.

All of these competitions have now been suspended.

The National League said in a statement: “At its Board Meeting on Friday, The National League decided to use its best endeavours to keep its season going in the face of unprecedented adversity

“However, with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) reaching global pandemic levels it has to accept that the situation is now out of its own control.

“In the knowledge of the government measures now announced including not to support sporting events with emergency services workers it is clearly not practical for its fixtures to be fulfilled in the immediate future.

“In those circumstances and in line with The Football Association and the Professional Game, at a Board Meeting today, The National League has decided that its competition is now suspended until at least 3rd April 2020.

“The National League will continue to monitor the situation, but trusts that its loyal clubs, fans, players, officials, staff, volunteers and sponsors will accept that it has had no other choice but to reach this decision.

“It wishes everybody connected with the competition and indeed the whole country a safe passage through these turbulent times.”

The Southern Counties East Football League added in their statement: “Following the advice just given by the Prime Minister that “all non-essential social contact” should be avoided, it is now appropriate to suspend the League season up to and including Saturday 28 March 2020.

“The Southern Counties East Football League will continue to monitor the situation on a regular basis using Government and FA guidance to decide if it will be appropriate to recommence after that date.

“Thank you for your patience in this matter but is an ever-changing picture.”

Corinthian are one of eight clubs that were scheduled to compete in the Semi-Finals over the next two weekends in FA competitions with the winners getting through to a Wembley Final.

However, Michael Golding’s side’s FA Vase Semi-Final ties against Northern League side Hebburn Town has, like everything else, been suspended.

A statement from The FA said: “In light of the most recent update from the Government on the coronavirus, we regret to inform you that The FA has decided to postpone all matches across all FA competitions, including those outside of the Professional Game, until 3 April.

“We are committed to trying to complete all Competition fixtures and will be liaising with the relevant parties to establish appropriate options to do so.

“A further update will follow in due course.”

A Kent County League statement added: “We have now reached the point where it is not in the best interests of all parties to continue with the planned fixture schedule.

“We have spoken with colleagues in other League’s and a unified approach is being sought.

“The League will now postpone fixtures at this time for an unspecified period and will advise all clubs if this should change.

“We respectfully request that you do not contact officers of the League and ask questions that at this time we cannot answer.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and once we have received further advice from the governing bodies, we will advise all of any decisions the League committee will take.”

The Kent Youth League said: "The League will regrettably follow the lead of senior football and postpone all matches up to and including Sunday 5 April.

"It buys us a few days to consider all options and we will continue to communicate with (our clubs)."

Meanwhile, critical decisions must be made by The Football Association as to what they are going to do with the 2019-20 football season?  Do they declare this season null and void and all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears go to waste? Di they finish the season today and go by current league positions? Do they complete the season at a later date? We’ll leave that to another day..

However, a much bigger issue will be to financially support ALL of our football clubs - who will go to the wall as they are not bringing in match-day revenue.

Also, the thousands of people who are self-employed within our non-league game, they need financial support too.

It’s time for the Premier League and the Television companies who plough millions and millions into the top-flight to give something back.  Non-League football is the heartbeat of the English game and without us, football does not exist.

Let's all protect our families and look after the elderly within our local communities.

Tough times are ahead of all of us, but we will pull through this safely together and hopefully complete an exciting 2019-20 football season that has been a pleasure to report on.

Stephen McCartney
Monday 16 March 2020

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