Season over for Blackpool non-league clubs

The season is over for Blackpool non-league clubs Squires Gate and AFC Blackpool.

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 8:00 am

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The FA last night announced the decision to curtail the season for the four levels of non-league below National League North and South. This includes both divisions of the North West Counties League, which includes Gate and Blackpool.

The decision, which must yet be ratified by the FA Council, follows an FA survey of clubs throughout the country.

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AFC Blackpool in action against Garstang on December 28 - the last day of North West Counties Football League action this season Picture: ADAM GEE

Squires Gate managed to play as many NWCFL fixtures as any club this season, nine, but last kicked a ball in the premier division on Boxing Day.

AFC Blackpool managed only five games in first division north and have not played since December 28, when the league last staged fixtures.

The FA revealed that 99.1 per cent of clubs in non-league Steps 3 and 4, and 95.8 per cent of clubs at Steps 5 and 6 (which includes the NWCFL) responded to its survey.

The FA statement reads: "The results of the survey showed that over 76 per cent of all clubs across Steps 3-6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020-21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before 1 April 2021.

"During this process, taking into account views of clubs and leagues, it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option.

"This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements which had resulted in there being 81 per cent of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75 per cent at Steps 5 and 6.

"Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, our alliance and leagues committees have reached a consensus that, subject to the approval of FA Council, the 2020-21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the NLS should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season.

"The committees will now present their collective recommendations to the FA Council for ratification.

"It has also been decided that, subject to FA Council’s decision regarding the curtailment of the season at Steps 3 to 6, both committees will revisit discussions around a potential restructure at Steps 4-6 of the NLS, which was previously agreed and has been on hold since the 2019-20 season. A further update on this will be provided in due course."

Grassroots football at lower levels could continue, though, after the FA sanctioned an extension of the season until the end of June.

This would give competitions three months to complete their fixtures under government proposals to allow outdoor sport to resume from March 29.

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