Cambridge City and Histon face delayed return to play in Isthmian League, North Division
Cambridge City and Histon are unlikely to return to action in the Isthmian League in 2020.
The end of the lockdown made play possible for Isthmian League teams, but the tier structures presented obstacles across the Trident Leagues – which comprise the Isthmian, Southern and Northern Leagues.
With many clubs placed in Tier 3 within the three structures, it meant that fans were unable to return, and for those in Tier 2, there was a question mark placed over the secondary spend of supporters during games with strict rules in place regarding the serving of alcohol.
A virtual meeting of all 224 clubs involved was held on Tuesday night, and then a 24-hour email vote conducted, and 172 clubs agreed to continue the current pause in fixtures.
There were 57 clubs in favour of the delay in the Northern Premier League, and four against; 68 in favour in the Southern League and 14 against; and, in the Isthmian League, 47 clubs agreed, 33 disagreed with one abstention.
A statement released by the Isthmian League said: “The ‘agree’ vote was therefore 76 per cent and it has been agreed that the three leagues will not sanction fixtures at this time.
“It is intended that the situation is kept under review in line with government review on the tier allocations and restrictions.
“Accordingly, the next review is set for December 16 and then December 30. It is the hope of all the leagues that a date in January can be set for a return to fixtures with clubs who wish being allowed to play before that date but this will not be until there is a change in the tiers and/or some progress in the funding of the clubs at this level.
“The government has allocated £25m to Sport England to fund Steps 1 to 6 of the National Leagues System, of which £14m is set for Steps 3-6 but is heavily weighted in favour of loans, not grants.
“The FA is working tirelessly with DCMS and Sport England to have the funding presented as grants. However, these negotiations take time, and it is not expected to have an answer or clarification of details of even the loans until mid-January.
“The deep concern of all involved in the NLS is that circumstances may mean that it is not possible to conclude the current format of competition in a manner in which promotion and relegation can be achieved throughout the whole pyramid with Step 2 being brought up to 48 clubs and Step 4 brought up to 240 clubs.
“If, therefore, no progress is made by the government on the Tiers in either of the two December reviews, it is the intention of the Alliance Committee to circulate those concerned with a survey to gather the views of the clubs as how best to finish the season.
“Options will include an alternative format competition and extending the season possibly into June 2021.
“However, the implications of all such proposals will involve the cost of players contracts and the ability of some clubs to continue playing because of other issues of grounds and the need to prepare grass pitches for the following season.
"The Leagues are mindful of the needs of all Clubs and are striving to find a solution which is fair to all.”