GUILLEM BALAGUE: Why the decision to end non-league football divisions was the wrong one

The broadcaster and Biggleswade United chairman shares his thoughts on the season being made null and void...

Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 9:01 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd April 2020, 9:02 am
Gullem Balague.

The good news is that a decision has finally been made with regards to our immediate footballing future as we all battle against this dreadful virus that is currently engulfing our world. The bad news is that, in my opinion, it is the wrong one.

For a long time I thought it was just me that believed there was another way of dealing with the situation rather than the wholesale cancellation of the season that had preceded the dreadful times we are currently enduring.

I am heartened therefore to be be able to join 66 other league clubs in signing a letter that calls for the FA to reconsider its decision to effectively bin - or as they euphemistically describe it, "expunge" - all the efforts of all of the clubs from steps three to six throughout the course of the 19/20 campaign.

Since the letter was written that number has risen to around 110+ clubs.

Although the decision still needs to be ratified by the FA Council, as it stands it means there will be no promotion or relegation in the 91 leagues covered by these levels. The same applies in the women's game below the Women's Super League and Championship level.

I have yet to hear a single reason why we can't simply freeze the leagues as they currently stand and then carry on where we left off when we finally come out of this nightmare, whenever that might be.

For Steps 3 to 7 as far as the 2019-20 season was concerned is is now simply a matter of 'game over', end of the season, get over it, move on, see you next season.

No such decision however for clubs Steps 1 and 2 which means there is now the possibility of relegation from step two but no promotion from step three?

We are currently waiting to hear from the FA. We still have to pay fines (we just got a letter from the women first team league asking for the fines) and I wonder if all the leagues will follow the lead of some who have waived the fees.

For Biggleswade United league fees amounts to almost £3,000. It is money we will have to find by the end of May and June of this year and most importantly it is money that we currently do not have.

Our secretary Tracey James has written to the FA pleading with them to grant us and other clubs in the same position a 12 month suspension - a 'holiday' period from making these payments. She has even started an online petition to campaign for it.

She has written to the Oliver Dowden the Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and has also enlisted the support of our former MP Alastair Burt who is currently supporting us and thankfully, at least the Bedfordshire County Football League where our Under 23s play have agreed off their own backs to suspend any charges for the immediate future, and we thank them for that.

Hopefully common sense and natural justice will prevail in the end but in the meantime that is not the main issue facing us all and our main thoughts at the moment go out to all those battling this virus, not least Spartan League general secretary Mike Appleby. We send him our most heartfelt wishes for a speedy recovery

We have also asked for help as there are Community Emergency Funds available and other ways of getting help. Plus I have included in any work contract that I will get during this crisis, a percentage to go to the club.

We have solid foundations and know we will eventually come out of this on the other side but until then for now I urge everyone to stay safe and to...

STAY AT HOME!!!!