Western Morning News

Final whistle blown on National League season

Promotion and relegation outcomes under ‘careful and timely considerat­ion’

- RICHARD HUGHES richard.hughes@reachplc.com

NATIONAL League clubs have voted to ‘end the season immediatel­y’, with all remaining league matches cancelled amid the coronaviru­s crisis, meaning no more football for Torquay United or Yeovil Town fans until at least August.

The National League, National League North and National League South were suspended on March 16, having controvers­ially played a round of fixtures after the suspension of the Premier League and EFL.

A statement from the league released yesterday said promotion and relegation issues are ‘under careful considerat­ion’.

All 24 National League clubs were given a vote on whether the season should continue when it could, or be stopped now and start again afresh. The North and South divisions – with 22 clubs in each – were given four votes each.

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson, who is on the Government’s furlough job retention scheme along with the club’s players and staff, said recently he wanted the National League to fall into line with what the Football League did – with the EFL currently proposing a return to training on May 16.

Talking to the Herald Express last month, while waiting to hear from the league, Johnson said: “I think the National League could still have two feeder leagues in the north and south, but I think our league is profession­al enough and strong enough to be aligned with the Football League.”

That hope of an alignment of the EFL and the National League seems to be a distant dream now, with this latest news – and the fact that the EFL is hoping to kick off the season again in early June, albeit, behind closed doors.

The National League said there was a ‘clear majority of clubs in favour’ of the cancellati­on from the almost 90 per cent of responses returned.

The statement said: “In the knowledge that the ordinary resolution has passed, the league’s board has chosen to communicat­e the decision now and before the last few responses are received, which will not change the outcome, to enable clubs to make business decisions with greater clarity as soon as possible.

There is now the small matter of deciding how to end the season in the National League’s three divisions.

Barrow are four points clear at the top of the fifth tier, with York top of the National League North, albeit having played two more matches than King’s Lynn, and Wealdstone top of the National League South.

The league said: “The options concerning the sporting outcomes of the 2019-20 season remain under careful and timely considerat­ion, and further updates will be given in due course.”

Decisions have to be made whether to determine the final standings by average points per game, declare the campaign null and void or implement an alternativ­e solution such as play-offs.

National League chief executive Michael Tattersall said: “At a time when the entire country is wrestling with the devastatin­g impact of Covid-19, the cancellati­on of the remaining normal season matches brings a degree of certainty to our clubs coping with the business implicatio­ns of the virus.”

Under furlough restrictio­ns, Gulls’ boss Johnson cannot talk about the current situation.

 ?? Micah Crook/PPAUK ?? > Torquay United’s Plainmoor ground will host no more 2019/20 Vanarama National League action after clubs voted to end the season
Micah Crook/PPAUK > Torquay United’s Plainmoor ground will host no more 2019/20 Vanarama National League action after clubs voted to end the season

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