The South West Peninsula League has issued the statement below in order to clarify its thoughts on next season.
I am sure many of you will now be aware that the Football Association have made rulings regarding the status and termination of the 2019/20 season which they have declared as “null & void”.
I want to explain issues that are still to be decided and also “where we go from here” – but before I do that I want to firstly Thank ALL clubs and their officers & players for their efforts in what has been the most trying of seasons for us all. Secondly, some clubs in both divisions (and clubs at Step 7 who had applied to join us) were in line for league honours and for some promotion, it will be no consolation to them that all promotion & relegation nationally is now off, but the fact they have been denied the chance to secure honours on the pitch is very regrettable.
Now for some practical steps looking ahead :
- League Dinner due in May – This is almost certain to be cancelled for the year and I have asked the league chairman to liaise with the venue.
- The League AGM in June – Whether this can physically take place is up in the air, initial thoughts are that we stream line the business to the minimum and send out reports, accounts etc with a view to getting a response from each club that they are accepted. Nothing will happen in the short term though as accounts don’t finish until March 31st and then they have to be audited.
- Paperwork for next season – Handbook forms, Fixture forms and player registration papers etc : These will probably be sent out electronically at the same time as the AGM reports to be returned by the end of May with players of course becoming free agents for the calendar month of June.
- Finance – The league has already given some thought as to the financial situation and the officers of the league are already actively looking at ways of helping clubs, the league has reasonable reserves built up for “a rainy day” and I think we can all agree that time is now, exactly how we will help will be looked at and we will also look to push other authorities, football and wider community, to also assist in this difficult time.
- Walter C Parson Cup Etc : Cup competitions are NOT specifically covered under today’s FA ruling, although none can now be played at this time due to restrictions due to covid19. County FA’s, indeed the FA with the FA Cup, Trophy & Vase, will all make their own decisions. As the Walter C Parson Cup is under the leagues control, the plan is to look to play the 4 remaining ties in July as part of pre-season. This may not be ideal in terms of teams being full strength, but the thought is that it would be the same for all sides and would allow the teams to play in the final. The plan would be for the last QF tie to be played early in July, the two semi finals in mid-July and the final at the very end of July. Devon & Cornwall FA’s will no doubt make their own decisions regarding the latter stages of their cups too.
- Next season – None of us can know when we will be able to start playing again, but the current thinking and timeline is : April / May – This crisis will need time and no football will be played, June is the official close season, July – We would ask clubs if restrictions are lifted to get back to playing friendlies (& any cup ties) with a view that we restart on the first weekend of August with a schedule of Saturday / Midweek through the opening months of the season with pitches perfect, weather hopefully good and all clubs needing income to get back on their feet. Obviously these timetables will be kept under review in light of Govt. advice.
Finally for now – Can I ask that you all look to stay healthy and look after your volunteer workforce, football is NOT “more important than life & death”, so take advice, if your old or vulnerable stay safe, if you’re a keyworker then you are owed all our Thanks for your efforts!
The league and the clubs will be back, maybe not stronger in a financial sense, but the commitment of the volunteer workforce through this difficult time will ensure, health permitting, that we meet again.
Philip Hiscox (League Secretary)