I feel the League and The FA should have liaised with the clubs, there was little to no communication and some dialogue would have been welcomed, says Whitstable Town chairman Steve Clayton

Saturday 28th March 2020

Whitstable Town chairman Steve Clayton has issued the following statement, with his club in fourteenth-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table at this time of the football season being declared null and void.

“By now most of you will have seen the news from the FA stating that the 2019/20 season for all Grassroots football has concluded, so I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you all to reflect on the past year.

Firstly, although we are all passionate about football, at the moment of course it takes a back seat compared to everything else going on in the world. We hope you are all staying safe and well and we send our thanks to all the key workers working so hard to look after us all.

Our country, and the rest of the world, is dealing with an unprecedented crisis, so we need to keep the outcome of the 2019/20 Isthmian and other football leagues in perspective.

I feel the League and The FA should have liaised with the clubs, there was little to no communication and some dialogue would have been welcomed.

It is easier to back the decision to null and void the season when the team sits mid-table and I can understand the anger for those clubs in the play-off zone. Equally I’m sure a few clubs will breath a sigh of relief.

Nobody can say my first season has been without its challenges, from cancelled flights to the wettest February on record and, of course, recent events meaning the season has ended prematurely!

I have enjoyed every second, however, and look forward to building on our successes next season.

We set out at the beginning of the season to bring together the youth and senior sections of Whitstable Town and I don’t think any of us quite realised the massive undertaking this was and the hours of work it would involve.

I would like to thank everyone who has helped, advised and supported us with this - we could not have done it without you.

This is not a short-term plan, but hopefully over the next few seasons we will start to see players from our youth teams progress to the Reserves and then onto the First Team and we are all working hard to achieve this.

I want to say a big thank you to Lloyd Blackman, his coaching and support staff, and the players.

We have ended the season in 14th place but I don’t feel that fully reflects the progress of the team. Indeed, there have been many games – Ashford on Boxing Day and Cray Valley away spring to mind – where the team’s performance hasn’t got its just rewards in terms of the result. As we all know, though, that’s the beauty (or otherwise!) of football!

I have to give a special mention to all our supporters, many of whom have travelled around the South East with us; at many games we outnumbered the home supporters! You have welcomed and supported Lloyd, the team and me and you all help make the club what it is.

There are so many others to thank, too. This club is a real community club and so many volunteers are involved in keeping it all going week in, week out – all of us are grateful to each and every one of you. Particularly the managers and coaches of the youth section who have stepped up at every ask, supporting the transition and running of the main club.

Finally, looking forward to next season (whenever this may start). These are uncertain times and we have lost all our income for the next few months. Behind the scenes we are working tirelessly to make sure the club will survive but this is not easy.

The club relies on sponsorship and with the current economic climate this will be difficult to come by next season. Non-league football will look quite different in the future, I feel. However, I also know that we are a hardy bunch at Whitstable Town and we will be back, better than ever.”

Visit Whitstable Town’s website: www.whitstabletownfc.club