Monday Morning Quarterback 2019-2020 – Where Do We Go From Here?
Well with the Southern League decision, whether rightly or wrongly to suspend the season for at least the next two weekends of football, it leaves the clubs, the league and ultimately the FA with a massive dilemma.
Whilst the Government talks about a possible lockdown, shutting down of schools, banning of mass crowds (leaving Moneyfields to continue playing as normal), our league already suffering from a backlog of postponed fixtures has a number of decisions to make.
Whilst talk goes on about what to do with the Premier League season, the FA Cup, and the Champions League etc, the Non-League branch of football, sits here in uncertain times, as some leagues continued to play, whilst others like ours suspended the league fixtures. A few fans took the opportunity to watch local side Andover New Street take on Alton, whilst myself and another fan took a trip up the M3, to see Frimley Green take on Colliers Wood, only to find two other Stoke fans also there.
However, let’s be clear, as a number of National League games were being cancelled, due to players either picking up the virus or starting to show flu-like symptoms, is the Southern League honestly expecting it all to end in seven days!!
No of course not, but it gives them a chance to delay any decision, whilst the Covid-19 virus continues to spread across the UK over the coming weeks and probably months, it will no doubt inherently cross football clubs and supporters alike. Talk of extending the season by two weeks to get our league season finished, is as you say, just talk, but is one of a few options that is being spouted around social media.
Anyone who thinks the league will restart at the beginning of next week, is sadly mistaken and the earliest it would likely restart would be in-line with the Premier League’s 3rd April current date, or even later.
But what does this mean, as this is not as straight-forward as everyone thinks. Come the beginning of May, contracts for players at lower leagues come to an end and this would therefore require a further financial cost, that many clubs in our league including us, would have difficulty in covering. Would players be free to continue playing, as a number of players go off to do other jobs, or did have holidays booked?
Add the fact that the weather shows no sign of relenting, which could still put many games being played in doubt anyway.
There is talk, that the top divisions, could postpone the season and then restart it in June and possibly July. What would then happen to the FA Cup, the Champions League and the European Championship in June?
Whatever, they decide may be all well for them, but for Non-League football it just simply wouldn’t work.
A few other options being floated around the Professional League, but likely would not work in the Non-League are;
a). To stop the season now and crown those teams champions but not relegate the teams in those positions. A great idea? but this would likely put a massive fixture burden on next season, and at Non-League levels, a fundamental change in the leagues was planned at the end of this season anyway. Could or should that still go ahead?
b). Would be to announce the season null and void, as if it never happened, which is great for those teams possibly being relegated, but for those clubs who are having a superb season only for it to be wiped out, or clubs who have made a huge financial commitment on the expectation of them getting promotion, only for it to get flushed down the toilet.
I think a few of our fans would love to wipe out the memories of visits to Frome, Thatcham and Melksham for various reasons.
c). Another option is to finish the season with a point per game system resolving league positions. Again Basingstoke would currently take this option.
d). Then of course the dreaded one, playing behind closed doors, of course no one really wants that, but even if players were fit to play, financially it would kill many lower league clubs.
There are a number of options being floated around, but nothing obvious to non-league football springs to mind.
Another consideration of any postponement or delay, that seems not to be have been mentioned, is how or when would clubs be able to start re-seeding or re-turfing pitches, normally started in May for the next season? Of course if the crisis continues, there may be no new season for teams to come back to, or many clubs may simply financially fold in the meantime.
Of course people’s health is first and foremost in all of this, but at some point, life is expected to return to normal, but football supporters certainly at non-league level across the country, may not have a football club to come back and support!
Whatever the Southern League, the FA or indeed the Government decide, both us and Barnstaple still have 11 games remaining (6 at home and 5 away).
Keep your eyes and ears open when the Southern League is to review the situation.
No change from last week, but I will leave the tables here, as this may be the final position.
The Top Five in Our League
The Division One South league goal-scoring chart.
|Ben Bament||Paulton Rovers||21|
|Soloman Wanjau-Smith||Slimbridge AFC||17|
|Jonathan Davies||Frome Town||17|
|Lee Chilton||Evesham Utd||16|
|Felipe Barcelos||Thatcham Town||16|
|Kyle Tooze||Thatcham Town||15|
|Lewis Powell||Larkhall Athletic||15|
|Luke Ballinger||Melksham Town||14|
|Jack Ball||Melksham Town||14|
|Daniel Demkiv||Mangotsfield Utd*||13|
|James Harding||Cinderford Town||13|
- No Longer in the league
The Bottom Five in our League Now Looks Like This
* Point deducted for illegal player.
Basingstoke Town Goal Scorers Chart.
|Name||League Goals||Cup Goals||Total|
|Zach Robinson *||3||3||6|
|Bradley Wilson *||4||0||4|
|Reece Rusher *||1||0||1|
* Players no longer with the club
If by some miracle the Southern League does decide to restart the season the week commencing the 23rd March, then there are currently six games scheduled to take place, including Basingstoke’s home match against Thatcham Town, whilst our relegation rivals Barnstaple Town host Willand Rovers.
TO BE CONTINUED?