Non league clubs on Merseyside have added their backing to an open letter calling on the FA to reconsider its decision to expunge their seasons.
The decision – still yet to be ratified by FA council – means that there will be no promotion or relegation below the National League North.
The same applies in the women’s game below the Women’s Super League and Championship level.
Southport’s season in the National League North (step 2) was suspended indefinitely just days after the ruling on steps 3-6 from the FA was announced.
This comes as a devastating blow to AFC Liverpool, Bootle and Lower Breck who all occupied promotion positions in the North West Counties League before football was called off in mid-March.
Those three clubs are amongst over 100 signatories alongside the likes of League One side Peterborough United, as well as Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors – two teams that have already secured promotion mathematically.
In the letter, all clubs express “profound concern and displeasure” with the decision to expunge all results for the 2019-20 season at non-league and grassroots level.
? A joint letter signed by more than 60 clubs across the country has today been sent to the @FA questioning the decision to void the season at steps three to six of non-league, and at various levels of the women's game.
Please read the letter here. pic.twitter.com/7pfoIw0N0x
— South Shields FC (@SouthShieldsFC) March 30, 2020
Some clubs have called on a points-per-game system – used in previous seasons as part of the restructure of the non-league system to be introduced.
Others have pointed to the FA’s desire to complete the FA Trophy, despite the fact one semi-final will pit Southern Central Division One side Halesowen Town – whose season stands to be voided – against National League South side Concord Rangers – whose campaign remains valid.
Paul Lawler, the chairman of the North West Counties Football League, has this week said that the consequences of the decision “threaten the whole future of the game at our level.”
Lawler has written to the FA’s League’s Committee seeking clarification on a number of issues arising from the decision to expunge playing records.
It was confirmed in the NWCFL’s response letter that the League Management Committee has agreed to honour the records and league tables from this season, declaring those results in their official records.
This includes Lower Breck finishing top of the First Division North table with AFC Liverpool finishing as runners-up.
Lawler said: “It is of major concern to me that The Alliance Committee is making unilateral decisions on behalf of League’s at Steps 5 & 6 without any consultation, and that Step 5 & 6 has little power or say in the decision-making process of this body, but has to live with the consequences, some of which threaten the whole future of the game at our level.
“Football isn’t important in the grand scheme of the current situation, but it is important once we are through it as it plays an integral part in so many people’s lives. As leaders of the game, it is our duty to think of the bigger picture and not just the short-term solutions that might make life easier but also cause so many unintended consequences as a result.
“Given the negative reaction of clubs, players and supporters of the non-league football, in order to maintain the integrity of our game, I would request that the League’s Committee consider the decision again and look at alternative solutions that recognise the achievements and contribution of clubs this season.”
Sefton-based Litherland REMYCA, who would stand to be relegated from the NWCFL Premier Division under a PPG system, have this week backed the letter sent to the FA.
This club stands in Soldarity with all non league members who oppose the FA directive to null and void this season and has formally supported the letter submitted by 60 teams to this end.
This decision is in our view morally wrong and unjust.
We support a PPG solution
— Litherland REMYCA FC (@RemycaUtd) March 30, 2020
Meanwhile, Chris Stirrup, chairman of AFC Liverpool, called on more clarity from the FA, claiming that the decision was rushed and benefited the few rather than the many.
He said: “It’s all gone out the window, simply because the FA have chosen, and not given any reason as to why, they’re not going to promote and relegate teams.
“[The PPG ratio] is not a new thing. The FA have used this in the past. I just don’t understand why they suddenly decided to end the season the way it is with teams finishing in the positions they’re in now or using the points-per-game ratio.”