Merseyside’s Lower Breck have been denied promotion for the second consecutive season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
75% of clubs voted to null and void the 2020/21 season from Step 3 to 6, as games could not take place with supporters. New coronavirus measures outlined that spectators could not return to any sport until May 17th.
For clubs in Non-League Step 3-6, it is the second in a row that has been declared null and void.
FA Statement on Steps 3-6 of the NLS
The FA have this evening clarified the position with regards to the continuation of the 2020/21 seasonhttps://t.co/dBYJw7Hw5j
— The NWCFL (@nwcfl) February 24, 2021
Step 6 outfit Lower Breck of the North West Counties First Division North, have been in the promotion places in both curtailed seasons.
In the 2020/21 season, Lower Breck sat second in the North West Counties First Division North league. They had taken a maximum 12 points from their first four league games of the season.
From October 14th, local restrictions for the Liverpool City Region impacted Merseyside’s Non-League clubs.
Restrictions meant teams could not travel in or out of the region to fulfil fixtures from October 14th.
National restrictions from November stopped all non elite sport being played for a month. Much of Non-League has struggled to restart from this halting to proceedings.
Manager Gary Moore said: “This time around we can have no complaints with the season being curtailed as we only played four league games. But the damage was done in the previous season when we were 31 games into the campaign.”
What happened in the 2019/20 season?
In March 2020, all sport in the country was stopped due to the first wave of coronavirus.
At the time of curtailment, Lower Breck sat 10 points clear at the top of the North West Counties First Division North table.
Breck seemed destined for promotion, amassing 67 points from 31 games.
In the letter, all clubs expressed “profound concern and displeasure” with the decision to expunge all results for the 2019-20 season at non-league and grassroots level.
Lower Breck’s Finances
Regarding the club’s finances, Moore said: “Like most clubs at our level the bank balance is never swelling and when the curtailing call came the club was losing money by playing football.
“We played FA Vase games home and away that left the club massively out of pocket and with only one home league game being played during the short time. Also, we had little income from the gate or bar that was closed due to restrictions”.
Playing games behind closed doors is not a viable option for those in the non-league. Club makes money through gate receipts and money from the bar, as well as through sponsorship.
Fortunately for Breck, they have continued to be well supported by sponsors and supporters.
“We have great backing from sponsors and season tickets whose tickets will be now rolled over to the 21/22 season. Having those funds available to use has been a great help.
Moore continued: “We’ve applied for the winter survival fund that’s been offered to clubs. As of yet we have had no reply. The club is still fundraising as we look to keep the bank balance in a sufficient state.”
Despite consecutive seasons of null and void, Moore was feeling positive when reflecting on how far the club has come in such a short space of time.
“Just over ten years ago the club was an under 17’s team playing in the South Liverpool Junior League. That tells you how far we have come in a short time.
“Without what hit the world last season we would be playing Step 5 football. Giant steps have been made.”
With football restarting on March 29th, Lower Breck have been invited by fellow league club Prestwhich Heys to play in an exhibition tournament.
Moore said: “If current restrictions are lifted, that will see us play three local sides and with the possibility of more games to follow.
“This won’t preparation for next season. But it’s all about getting to see the lads again and getting the footy’s back out the bag. It’s been too long”.