Shildon AFC are among more than 60 signatories of a letter questioning the Football Association’s decision to void the season at steps three to six of non-league, and at various levels of the women’s game.
The chairmen of the clubs, including Shildon’s David Dent, are protesting the FA’s decision, claiming “a total lack of substantive dialogue or consultation” before reaching a decision in “needless and inexplicable haste”.
The three-page joint letter to the FA, signed by the chairmen of six other Northern League clubs, including league leaders Stockton Town and second division leaders, West Allotment Celtic, highlights that the FA decision “still pends official ratification by the FA Council” and urgently calls for “constructive dialogue with the FA.”
It goes on to agree that “the public health situation … undoubtedly takes precedence over football”, but adds that “all [signatory] clubs agree with the decision that the current playing season should be indefinitely discontinued until it is safe to resume”, pointing out that this is “a similar stance to what the Premier League aims to do – wait several weeks to see how the public health situation unfolds before deciding the next steps”.
The letter asks the FA to clarify a number of points, including why it made its decision so hastily given “there is plenty of time ahead in the coming weeks and months that can be utilised to sensibly consult with leagues and clubs.”
The letter claims that while the FA released a statement suggesting consensus had been reached on expunging results, “no such consensus was ever reached amongst the NLS steps three to six,” adding that “some leagues were barely consulted” and that “clubs at step seven of the non-league pyramid were not consulted whatsoever”.
The letter also hightlights the two-tier treatment of non-league clubs, noting that “NLS steps one to two are not in the same ‘null and void’ decision”.
It also points out that the grievances are not only held by clubs occupying promotion and relegation places, saying that “many clubs backing [the] letter do not currently stand to get promoted yet still offer their support because of their belief in upholding the integrity of the footballing leagues”.
Another point the letter makes is that some clubs “including Jersey Bulls FC and Vauxhall Motors FC have also already mathematically secured promotion”, and asks, “what are the grounds for them not to get promoted this season? … It is patently unjust to have a season’s tireless work annulled in such a manner”.
The financial implications of the FA decision are also highlighted.
“Why did the FA, in reaching its decision, not discuss the huge financial impact during their ‘consultation’ process? Are clubs expected to foot the bill for playing a season of [what amount to be] ‘friendlies’?”, it asks.
The letter claims the decision is a “watershed moment for the FA and the relationship it chooses to have with non-league and grassroots football”, and does not rule out the possibility of “potential legal recourse” should the FA fail to respond to its call for additional dialogue.
The full text of the letter to the FA and its signatories at the time of initial publication: