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online abuse

How Consett AFC is backing the campaign to stop online abuse on social media

Consett AFC have today added their voice to this weekend’s sporting boycott of social media, in a bid to stop online abuse.

However, as it covers the biggest game in our clubs’ history, the FA Vase Final v Hebburn Town on Monday, 3 May, we – like our opponents – will only be taking part in a partial boycott.

An announcement was made by the FA last Saturday that the Premier League, EFL, WSL, LMA, PGMOL, PFA, FSA and Kick it Out will boycott social media updates between 3pm today and 11.59pm on Monday.

This is a response to the sustained discriminatory abuse aimed at players, officials, management and other personnel involved in the game of football.

Online abuse

Consett AFC Chairman Frank Bell said: “It is important to note that Consett AFC wholeheartedly supports this campaign against online abuse.

“However, the weekend the FA has chosen to run this campaign coincides with Non-League Finals Day and the greatest match for the club in its 122-year history.

“This match will be played behind closed doors, which makes it even more important for us to keep our fans and other non-league followers updated and informed of events surrounding the 2019-20 FA Vase Final. 

“After discussions with the FA, it has been agreed that we will support this social media boycott from 3pm on Friday until 6pm on Saturday 1 May.

Bigger impact

“Clearly, we are disappointed that once again it is non-league football that is suffering, and did suggest that the campaign would have a bigger impact over the weekend of the FA Cup Final, but this was rejected by the FA.

“This has been a very difficult decision for the club to make, given that we as a club completely support the principles of the boycott.

“However, given the extreme circumstances we have been left with, we have compromised, in agreement with the FA, whilst considering the needs and welfare of our supporters, who have suffered enough mental challenges during the last year.”

FA Vase final kick-off time confirmed

The kick-off time for Consett’s FA Vase final at Wembley against Hebburn Town has today been confirmed as 1pm.

The game, which is held over from the 2019-20 season, will be played behind closed doors, but is being televised live by BT Sport.

It will be followed by the delayed 2020 FA Trophy final between Concord Rangers and Harrogate Town, which is also being screened live.

The FA also reiterated its decision that the game will be played with no supporters present.

It said: “Despite our best efforts to accommodate a limited number of spectators, a suitable date was sadly not available within the stadium’s calendar, and both fixtures will be played behind closed doors.”

However, a limited number of spectators will be permitted to attend the 2020-21 FA Vase and FA Trophy finals, which take place on May 22, in line with the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown.

The FA added: that it “would like to once again thank the clubs and supporters in these competitions for their understanding throughout this challenging time.”

Three Northern League clubs retain an interest in this season’s competition, which resumes this Saturday. They are Hebburn Town, Shildon and West Auckland Town.

Now the kick-off time is confirmed, Consett AFC will shortly be launching a virtual ticket and a special Wembley edition of our matchday publication the Steelman for our final. Watch our social media for further details.

The FA presses ahead with restructuring using points-per-game to decide promotion

The FA today confirmed that it intends to press ahead with its restructuring of Steps 4-6 of the National League System (NLS) for season 2021-22.

The move was intended to take effect from this season, but was delayed due to the impact of Covid-19, with 2019-20 declared ‘null and void’ and 2020-21 ‘curtailed’ with less than a third of games played.

The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committee Committees have now met to consider this matter and will be recommending to the FA Council that the structural changes to the number of divisions in the NLS be completed.

Extra division

They want to address the ‘imbalance’ that currently exists and achieve the ‘pure pyramid’ at Steps 1-6. This means the creation of an extra division at Step 4 (the division above Northern league Division One) , which will be administered by the Northern Premier League.

A total of 110 clubs around the country will be upwardly moved within the pyramid at Steps 4-6 in order to create the new divisions.

The FA says this ‘will protect the integrity of the NLS whilst supporting clubs with a desire and ambition to progress, without undermining the stability of the system.’

Positive impact

It says the restructure ‘will have a positive impact on a significant number of clubs, supporting them with reduced travel and costs, and providing greater opportunities for generating income via localised fixtures’.

As far as the Northern League is concerned, three clubs will move into the new Step 4 league, with promotion decided on a points per game basis, from games played over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

They will be joined by the top three ranked clubs from the North West Counties League and Northern Counties East League, along with the top-ranked club from the remaining 11 Step 5 divisions.

If an eligible club decides not to take promotion, the next-best-ranked club will be invited (and so on), subject to any cut-off point set by The FA.

Consett AFC is currently examining how the proposal affects the club, before making any further comment.

points across both seasons will be added together and divided by the number of games it has played across both seasons 1 . b. Clubs will then be ranked within their respective leagues on the basis of those calculations. c. Clubs who are eligible for upward movement will be identified as follows: i. Step 5 – The top 3 ranked clubs from each of the North West Counties League, Northern Counties East League and Northern League, along with the top ranked Club from the remaining eleven Step 5 divisions, will be considered eligible for upward movement to Step 4 and will be invited to make an application to do so. Multiple clubs will be upwardly moved from these specific leagues, as per the previous ratification by FA Council, in order to address specific challenges with travelling distance and time which exist at Step 4. ii. Step 6 – The top 2 ranked clubs in each of the South West Peninsula League divisions, along with the top 3 ranked clubs from the eighteen remaining Step 6 divisions, will be considered eligible for upward movement to Step 5 and will be invited to make an application for upward movement. Fewer clubs will be upwardly moved from the South West Peninsula League Divisions, as per the previous ratification by FA Council, on the basis of geographical reasons for the relevant divisions at Step 5. iii. The Committees are currently considering what additional requirements clubs who are eligible based on sporting merit will be required to meet in order to be upwardly moved via this process and further details will be communicated on this in due course. d. It will not be mandatory for any club which is eligible for upward movement to make an application. If an eligible club decides not to do so, the next best ranked club will be invited (and so on) subject to any cut off point deemed appropriate by the Committees. 4. The process outlined above will lead to a need to backfill in certain divisions at Step 6 to bring them up to quota. Where there is a need to do so, the Committee will liaise with the relevant Step 6 Leagues and ask them to consider applications that were made by clubs on or before 31 December 2020 from clubs in Regional NLS Feeder Leagues within their relevant geographical area. Given the degree of variation in the number of fixtures completed by clubs in Regional NLS Feeder Leagues, the Committees did not consider it appropriate to utilise sporting data in the same way to determine upward movement. Accordingly, the proposed upward movement will be determined by the relevant Leagues on the basis of a subjective application process (although sporting data may be taken into account), with the final decision to allocate Clubs being with the Committee. 5. All applications will be assessed by the Committees on the basis of the principles above and clubs will be allocated accordingly.

Consett could resume their season on April 10 with a cup match at Birtley – if spectators are allowed

Consett could resume their season next month with their much-delayed Durham Challenge Cup tie at Birtley Town – but only if spectators are allowed.

Both clubs have informed Durham FA they wish to continue in this season’s competition, which it aims to finish once non-elite football is allowed to resume as part of the easing of lockdown.

A date has been agreed for the 1st Round game to take place at the Arrowmark Home Improvements Stadium – Saturday, 10 April, with a 3pm kick-off – on condition that supporters can attend.

This depends on permission being granted by the Department for Culture Media & Sport – we’ll keep you updated with any news.

Consett are among the Northern League clubs who have expressed an interest in taking part in an end-of-season cup competition, again on the proviso that supporters are allowed to attend, and that food and drink can be sold.

No format, dates or fixtures have yet been confirmed, though again we’ll bring you updates as soon as they’re available. The league programme is likely to be curtailed, though no final decision has yet been made.

Finally, the FA has been in touch with ourselves and Hebburn Town regarding the delayed 2020 FA Vase Final, which it still hopes to play before the end of the current football season.

Discussions are continuing between the FA, Wembley, BT Sport, competition sponsors and the DCMS over a suitable date for the game to take place with fans in attendance. Watch this space…

‘I’m one of a great team’ says grateful Dave after winning award from The FA

Club official David Pyke, who this week won a national award for his contribution to grassroots football, today modestly declared: “I’m part of a team.”

As well as being secretary of Consett AFC since 2007, Dave has been involved with Consett Juniors since 1994.

But he was stunned to hear this week that he has been named Volunteer of the Year for Durham County in the Grassroots Football Awards run by The FA in conjunction with McDonald’s.

And he was even more taken aback by the tide of congratulations which followed on Facebook and Twitter after we broke the news on the club website.

“It’s great to win an award, but the response on social media, kind words and sentiments blew me away. It was like being able to read your obituary, which won’t be due for a while yet, I hope.

Andrew Pearson, Frank Bell and David Pyke at the old Belle Vue.

“I would just like to say thank you to everyone. There are a lot of volunteers at Consett AFC and I hope this award helps recognise I’m one of a great team.

“The seeds of a community club were set at the old Belle Vue, with strong influences from John Hurst, Tommy Connelly, Andrew Pearson and Anthony Robson.

“Then along came Frank and Dianne Bell plus a new stadium and we’ve never looked back.

“Above all, it is a safe environment for young people to enjoy sport, stay active, meet people and make friends. Long may it continue.”

David Pyke with former Consett AFC chairman and current President John Hurst.

Long-serving secretary David Pyke hailed as a grassroots football hero

David Pyke, the long-serving secretary of both Consett AFC and Consett Juniors, has today been honoured by The FA and McDonald’s in the national Grassroots Football Awards.

He has been named Volunteer of the Year for the Durham FA area for the 2019-20 season.

Dave – who has been first team secretary for 13 years, and the administrative rock of Consett Juniors for much longer – didn’t even know he had been nominated until he received the letter to say he’d won.

The citation said: “In a season which was unfortunately cut short as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards celebrate and recognise the inspiring work that has taken place throughout the 2019-20 season. This is our opportunity to celebrate Durham County’s grassroots football heroes.

“The FA and McDonald’s Grassroots Football Awards are for people who make a positive difference. It’s our way to celebrate the fantastic individuals who put their heart and soul into the grassroots game across Durham FA and say a huge ‘thank you’ to the incredible volunteers who inspire us all.”

As well as arranging first-team games and being responsible for player registrations and matchday admin, Dave liaises with the coaches and secretaries of all our teams from four-year-olds to over-40s. He even gets to watch games sometimes (when he’s not acting as ballboy – see above).

He joined Consett Juniors as an U12s coach in 1994 with ex-Consett player Barry Poole. They won the league in their first two seasons and were with the team all the way through to U18s, with a few of the lads tasting first team football under Colin Carr.

He became secretary of Consett Juniors in 2000, leading the club to become a Charter Standard Club in 2001 and Community Club in 2006.

He became secretary of the first team too in 2007, and his ambition for the juniors and seniors to come under the same umbrella became possible when we moved to the new stadium in 2013.

Consett AFC as a whole was also named as runner-up in the grassroots club of the year category, behind South Tyneside Ability Football Club, which provides a place for people with disabilities to play the game.

Consett AFC Chairman Frank Bell said: “We are delighted to receive recognition for our ongoing efforts to build a real community club around the facility we have at Belle View. It’s a mark of everyone’s efforts.

“A club is only as good as the people who run it, and in Dave the first team and the juniors have one of the best volunteers in grassroots football anywhere, not just in County Durham.”

“As a player, coach and administrator he has given more than 50 years’ service to the game. This award is richly deserved.”

Consett’s Northern League campaign is OVER as the FA ends the season – with no promotion or relegation

Consett’s 2019-20 Northern League season is over after the FA advised all Step 5 and 6 leagues to end immediately due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The FA decided that the ongoing restrictions on sport due to Covid-19 has made finishing fixtures impossible, and ordered that all leagues at our level conclude now.

The FA announced today that all football in England below the three divisions that make up the National League will end immediately, with all results expunged from the record.

It means there will be no promotion or relegation in these leagues, which includes to and from the Northern League’s 1st and 2nd Division.

The setting up of the FA’s new Step 4 league, due to come into effect next season, has been deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.

The FA looked into extending the season and or use a mechanism to calculate final league tables and preserve promotion and relegation.

The FA said it is “reviewing all options” to complete the FA Cup, which has reached the quarter-final stage, and other cup competitions, including the FA Vase.

An FA statement said: “These are challenging circumstances for English football, and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game.

“Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.

“Today’s steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, whilst considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided, with the integrity of the leagues in mind.”