Coronavirus: National League suspends games over pandemic until 3 April

Game off sign
The men's and women's National Leagues both confirmed the suspension of fixtures on Monday

The National League has suspended all fixtures until 3 April and the Football Association has advised all grassroots football in England be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

On 13 March all games were suspended for at least three weeks in England's Premier League, EFL, Women's Super League and the Women's Championship.

The National League initially decided to carry on playing games on Saturday.

But on Monday they said playing on was not practical in the immediate future.

The Women's National League - which operates the third and fourth tiers of the English women's pyramid - also suspended games from Monday, but did not specify a targeted resumption date.

Those announcements came as the Football Association recommended that "all grassroots football in England is postponed for the foreseeable future" after government advice.

A National League statement said: "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 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, the National League has decided that its competition is now suspended until at least 3 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."

Grassroots game to be halted

The FA, following government advice, had previously said that any decision to continue playing or to postpone their respective grassroots competitions was a matter for each league as autonomous bodies within the game.

However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Monday speech advising against mass gatherings, and the withdrawal of emergency services personnel from such events, led the FA to change that directive.

The FA said: "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.

"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 Women's National League, which is run by the FA, added: "The league management committee consider the welfare of everyone involved in the FAWNL as paramount to the decision made.

"[We] encourage all clubs to follow the stringent advice as set out by the government."

The Northern Premier League, which operates three divisions at levels seven and eight of the English football pyramid, had announced earlier on Monday it would suspend all games "until further notice".

Like the National League, the NPL went ahead with games last weekend but it said: "The number of clubs reporting players or officials in self-isolation has now reached a point at which continuing to play games would severely undermine the integrity of the competition."