More than 100 non-league clubs send letter to FA over expunging season

By Laura ScottBBC Sport
More than 60 non-league clubs have written an open letter to the Football Association
Some men's teams, such as Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors, had already secured promotion to step five of the non-league pyramid, but their promotions are due to be cancelled

More than 100 non-league clubs have sent an open letter to the Football Association, calling for it to "urgently" reconsider the decision to expunge their seasons.

Some MPs have also written to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport asking for intervention in what they described as an "unfair" and "disappointing" decision.

It was announced last week that football in England below the National League's three divisions would end immediately with results expunged.

It means there will be no promotion or relegation in these 91 leagues. The same applies in the women's game below the Women's Super League and Championship level.

The decision is yet to be ratified by the FA Council.

Sport has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, with fixtures suspended earlier this month.

The letter says: "Our concern is grounded primarily in the needless and inexplicable haste exercised in reaching the decision, coupled with a total lack of substantive dialogue or consultation with affected clubs.

"The decision also disregards the millions of pounds invested and countless hours expended collectively by clubs, and so has critical financial implications.

"In writing this joint letter, we recognise that the decision to expunge results for the 2019-20 season still pends official ratification from the FA Council.

"However, we believe it is unacceptable that such a decision has been handed down to us in this manner. We urgently seek constructive dialogue with the FA with the aim to have the decision reconsidered."

BBC Sport has seen communication between clubs and their local MPs demonstrating that they have written, or will be writing, to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on this issue.

The letter says that if there is no consensus reached with the clubs, they will "embark on potential legal recourse".

In a statement, the FA said: "The decision taken to end the 2019-20 season across steps 3-7 of the National League system, the women's football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women's Board.

"It will now go to the FA Council for ratification. We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football."

What have some MPs said?

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, has written to the sports minister Nigel Huddleston asking for him to intervene.

He had been approached by Martin Hillerby, chairman of Stockton Town Football Club, who were 13 points clear at the top of the Northern League Division 1.

In a letter seen by BBC Sport, Mr Cunningham says: "I agree with Martin [Hillerby] that this decision is unfair and the repercussions, in particular the financial impact, would be disastrous for Stockton Town FC. I'd be obliged if it would be possible for you to intervene and prevent this approach from the FA."

He adds: "A promotion to the Northern League Premiership would offer fantastic opportunities for development for the ambitious club. It is a great community club and provides terrific experiences for our local young people."

Jacob Young, MP for Redcar, also confirmed to BBC Sport that he has been in touch with the DCMS to raise the issue and intends to write to the FA.

He said: "It's a disappointing decision as it negatively affects two clubs in my area, Redcar Athletic and Marske United. I believe there are steps the FA could take to make the situation fairer and so I intend to write to the FA in that respect."

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