Statement- League to continue pause in fixtures

Isthmian League Statement and Response from the Chairmen

The Pitching In Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues have released a joint statement

"The Clubs in membership of the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian Leagues (the Trident Leagues) met earlier this week to consider the challenges and issues brought about by the reintroduction of Tiers after the raising of the nationwide lockdown with effect from yesterday.

The clubs were asked to vote on a proposition that the pause in fixtures be continued with a regular review in light of changes to the Tiers and/or grants becoming available. The total votes cast by the 224 Clubs show a substantial number of Clubs in agreement with the proposition. The matter has been considered today by all concerned and a further statement will be issued in due course."

 

Reaction from Joint Chairmen

"We are incredibly disappointed with this result. We fully understand the challenges going on in the World right now and where football comes in the grand scheme of things. But we now have a situation where the Government has authorised us to play, in a safe, managed way just as we did prior to the second lockdown, having spent many thousands of pounds to create a safe environment for our players, supporters, staff and volunteers, but we are prevented from playing.

We of course also recognise the immense difficulties faced by clubs in Tier 3 areas, where it would be impossible to play without supporters, which is why a regional approach should have been taken to a regional problem.

We have always been a ‘can do’ club, looking at ways of making things happen rather then reasons why we CAN’T do something. We feel a solution could have been found to take care of those with tighter restrictions, whilst allowing those who can play to do so. Instead, we have a situation where EVERY clubs future has been put at risk, rather than just those in Tier 3. The argument is given that those clubs would have fallen behind in fixtures, but that happens each season anyway, from lengthy cup runs to weather and poor pitches causing multiple postponements. A solution COULD have been found if only we had tried.

We were told at the meeting that each club shouldn’t think of their own circumstances, but take into account the needs of all clubs, but I defy any club to vote for something that puts their very existence in doubt. That is why a flexible approach should have been considered to take into account each clubs own circumstances, rather than an across the board decision that affects everyone, when circumstances vary so greatly.

This club has overcome many challenges over the years, but after negotiating perhaps the biggest of them all over the last 8 months, we now genuinely fear for its future more than we ever have. Without football, without supporters coming into the ground, without sponsors getting their exposure… but with all our bills still to pay, where do we go from here? If we can’t play now, do we think we will be able to in January? The longer we cannot play, the more grave the problem becomes for us. 

With the government “Winter Survival Fund’ being made up of loans, rather than grants, it is unlikely clubs at our level would take on any loans to replace lost income, with no prospect of being in a position to pay them back.

Despite football being way down the list of priorities in the midst of a global pandemic, the mental, physical and social benefits would have brought about some welcome relief. We can only hope we get the opportunity to bring those benefits to the community once again.

We await the follow up statement from the leagues which will hopefully add more detail to the plans going forward.”

Chris Daynes, Andy Clarke & Matt Hope- Joint Chairman