Coronavirus: 150 non-league clubs back protest letter to FA

By Ian DennisBBC Radio 5 Live senior football reporter
Non league football
All non-league football seasons in England below the National League were voided on 26 March

More than 150 non-league clubs have backed a letter calling for a "thorough consultation" over the scrapping of their season.

The nine-page legal letter was sent to the Football Association on Friday on behalf of three clubs - South Shields, Worthing and Hastings - who represent a further 148 men's and women's teams.

The clubs are unhappy at a decision to cancel their season on 26 March.

They want a consultation before the FA Council meets to confirm the decision.

BBC Sport understands the original request - which saw all football below the three divisions making up the National League halted and the season's results declared null and void - came from the respective league committees.

The FA, which was part of the process, then made the final decision - but it is yet to be ratified by the FA Council, which meets next week.

South Shields, Worthing and Hastings have highlighted "serious concerns" over the process and procedure and cite "primary concerns" over a lack of communication and consultation.

They were unhappy about the timing of the decision, arguing that although it was taken to reduce financial uncertainty, the cancelling the season means there is a greater financial loss as incomes have been severely hit.

The clubs also argue that there was a lack of clarity in the procedure leading to the decision and a lack of consultation from the majority of leagues involved in the decision with their member clubs.

In addition, the clubs say they are not comfortable that the process undertaken has been transparent, and believe it is "flawed" and was conducted in "unnecessary haste".

The letter has been supported by Darragh MacAnthony, owner of League One club Peterborough, who is named in it.

An FA spokesperson 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."

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