Petition to FA over non-League season cancellation passes 100 signatures

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More than 100 clubs have now signed a letter to the Football Association to express “profound concern and displeasure” at the ending of the season at non-League and grassroots level.

League One Peterborough are among those to have shown their support following last week’s decision to expunge all results Step 3 and below.

The FA has faced criticism for voiding the season for non-League divisions below the National League and National League North and South, and for women’s football below the Women’s Super League and Championship, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The governing body has said the decision was made by the leagues and supported by the FA Board and FA Women’s Board, though it is yet to be ratified by the FA Council.A letter sent to the FA on Monday carried an initial 64 signatories from across non-League football, but has attracted additional support since first being published, with South Shields saying on Tuesday morning the number had surpassed 100

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony also confirmed via social media that he has signed the letter on behalf of the Sky Bet League One club.

The letter accuses the FA of “needless and inexplicable haste” in acting to void the season and said this was “coupled with (a) total lack of substantive dialogue or consultation with affected clubs”.

The letter also claimed that clubs in steps one and two of the National League system – the National League and National League North and South – “were removed from the ruling at the 11th hour” and asked: “How can the FA possibly justify treating different steps under the non-league banner differently?”

Signatories to the letter said they agreed with the decision to halt play during the ongoing health crisis, but could not understand why results were voided in the lower leagues while the Premier League, EFL and others remain on hold with the hope of completing the season.

“Most clubs in steps three to six have now completed 70-80 per cent of their league fixtures, and it is incomprehensible that these results should be delegitimised and expunged on the basis that the final quarter of the season cannot be fulfilled in the future,” the letter said.

“Our demand for the FA to reconsider its decision is also about sending a message to the fans of our clubs, who have spent hard-earned money to follow their teams up and down the country, letting them know their support was not in vain.”

Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors, two clubs who had already mathematically achieved promotion from their respective divisions this season, are among the signatories to the letter, but others said they were doing it to protect the integrity of competition.

They pointed to the FA’s stated 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.

The letter also rejected the FA’s assertion in its own statement it “reached a consensus” with steps three to six of the National League System, saying many clubs were against the move while others were not properly consulted.

“A crisis like this is a watershed moment for the FA and the relationships it chooses to have with non-league and grassroots football,” the letter said.

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