THE Football Association [The FA] has been working collaboratively with the National League System [NLS], the Women’s Football Pyramid and the wider grassroots game since the outbreak of COVID-19 on how to conclude the 2019-20 season in the most appropriate way possible.
These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game and in consultation across key stakeholders.
The FA’s primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.
Steps announced on Thursday afternoon 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.
The NLS and the Women’s Football Pyramid were able to build a consensus amongst their leagues and, where possible, aimed to create a consistent approach across all leagues, whilst taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual league.
As a result, The FA and NLS Steps 3 to 6 have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS Steps 3 to 6, and no promotion to NLS Step 2.
These decisions will also apply to the Leagues and clubs who play at NLS Step 7.
The National League [NLS Steps 1 and 2] have agreed that they want to attempt to complete the competition in line with the Premier League, EFL and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and Emirates FA Cup and are therefore seeking permission from The FA that the season for this level will be extended beyond June 1st 2020 indefinitely.
The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.
Furthermore, The FA can confirm it has decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season.
County Football Associations [CFAs] will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.
Where appropriate, the above decisions will be put to The FA Council for ratification.
Throughout this period The FA continues to seek guidance in respect of the Government’s financial support packages relative to COVID-19 and how they are applicable to clubs in the NLS, the Women’s Football Pyramid and the wider grassroots game.
In the women’s game, The FA, FA Women’s Board members and the Women’s Football Conference have consulted and reached a consensus regarding the Women’s Football Pyramid.
The FA and the Leagues within Tiers 3 to 7 have reached a consensus to bring the season to an immediate end and all results will be expunged.
This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between Tiers 3 to 7. Agreement has also been reached to end the Regional Talent Clubs season, which was due to conclude in April 2020.
The FA remain in consultation with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship Board and clubs regarding the most appropriate way to complete the current season; including the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Academy.
With the Emirates FA Cup, Women’s FA Cup, Buildbase FA Trophy and Buildbase FA Vase 2019-20 all at advanced stages, The FA is reviewing all options as they seek to complete these competitions whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Clubs involved are close to reaching a major Final and for those clubs and supporters The FA will do all they can to keep the Wembley dream alive.
In respect of The FA Youth Cup, The FA County Youth Cup, The FA Sunday Cup and The FA Inter-League Cup, The FA are also seeking to complete these competitions if it is feasible to do so.
The FA will also continue planning for FA Competitions to take place for the 2020-21 season.