Northern League season to kick off on September 5 – if spectators are allowed

The Northern League has decided that its 2020-21 season will kick off on Saturday, September 5 – but only if spectators are allowed to attend games.

As set out in the FA’s timescales, the intention is to start league fixtures on that date, though this is still subject to further discussions between the FA and the Government.

The league management committee will make a final decision on the start of our new league season once the issue of spectators is resolved nationally.  The fixture list will be released at this stage.

LEAGUE CUP SUSPENDED

The Brooks Mileson Memorial League Cup will be suspended for the forthcoming season.  In its place, there will be a cup competition just for first division clubs.

These matches will be played on a straight knock-out basis, with ties to be decided on the night. There will be no extra time, and draws at 90 minutes will be settled by a penalty shoot-out.

The Ernest Armstrong Memorial Cup for second division clubs will be run as normal.

Each county FA will make its own decision regarding the playing of their county cup competitions, which are separate from the league.

‘SPECTATORS ARE ESSENTIAL’

League chairman Glenn Youngman, pictured, said: “These are unprecedented times for non-league football and we have had to balance a number of issues.

“The priority is to complete league fixtures.  The delayed start to the season means there are fewer weeks for fixtures to be arranged.

“But spectators are essential to the livelihood of our clubs, so we hope the issue about when spectators can attend games will be resolved at a national level as quickly as possible so we can make a final decision about the start of the new season.

“I would also like to thank all the staff and volunteers and our clubs who are putting in so much work behind the scenes to prepare for the new season and to make it as safe as possible for players, officials and spectators.

“The decision to run two, separate cup competitions for our two divisions has been a difficult one. However, we are conscious that clubs have been affected by the loss of income. Running two cup competitions for the two divisions will reduce the pressure on the fixture list while, at the same time, providing much-needed revenue.

“We will keep the progress of the two cup competitions under review during the season.”

MATCHDAY PROGRAMMES

Because of the Covid-19 guidance to reduce the amount of material/paperwork handled, the league has advised clubs that paper copies of programmes should not be provided for league games and league-related cup matches. Some clubs are providing programmes online – spectators are advised to check with a club directly to see if this option is available.

FA VASE SEMI-FINAL

Consett AFC are still awaiting a decision from the FA on when the FA Vase semi-final against Bitton will be played. The latest update we had is here.

Gary Welford