National League 'may be played to a finish later in summer'

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
No National League games have been played since 14 March
National League clubs have between five to nine games left to play to finish the season

The National League may yet be played to a finish later this summer.

Representatives of the league spoke to the Football Association on Monday and then had a conference call between themselves the following day, the outcome of which has become confused.

Some clubs thought a message that the season 'was going to be closed' was confirmation that a request would be made to the FA for the campaign to be brought to an end immediately, something many of them want as they look to save money on player contracts.

However, National League executives felt they were merely stating matches could not be played in the short-term and believe re-opening the season and playing it to a finish when circumstances allow remains a possibility.

The league remains in talks with the FA and the English Football League about how the current campaign can finish, either with or without further matches being played, knowing that two sides - the champions and play-off winners - are due to be promoted into League Two.

The FA has also met officials lower down the non-league pyramid, which some kind of clarification expected later on Thursday.

'Consensus to complete season'

There have been no games played in the National League since 14 March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ian Evatt, manager of National League leaders Barrow, opposes any move to declare the season null and void with some clubs only having seven games left to complete their 2019-20 schedule.

But Dagenham & Redbridge managing director Steve Thompson believes cancelling the season would help clubs survive.

Yeovil Town co-chairman and owner Scott Priestnall said a statement issued on Wednesday appearing to suggest clubs wanted to "close the season"external-link did not read "as intended".

In a video post on Twitter, he said: "The National League has now officially asked the FA to postpone all remaining league fixtures.

"But having spoken to the league, and a number of clubs over the past few days, there is a consensus to get the league completed whenever that might be."

Priestnall said he expected a lead to be taken from the Premier League and EFL and, if they are able to complete their seasons, there was a "very good chance" the National League would do likewise.

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