LEAGUE / FA UPDATE – 13.02.21

The Northern Premier League remains suspended at the moment. We have received updates from NPL Chairman Mark Harris and the FA, as below:

Mark Harris (Thursday 11th February):

“Following a meeting of the NPL board on Tuesday, I wanted to up-date you on some of the items we discussed, including progress with the outcome of the 2020/21 season.

You will shortly receive an up-date from the FA but, in the meantime, this is what I can tell you.

FA Club Survey
The response to the survey was excellent with 224 out of 226 clubs at Steps 3 – 4 taking part. The FA Alliance Committee met on 8th February to review the survey’s results. Similar exercises are going on within the National League and at Steps 5 & 6 via the FA Leagues Committee.
The Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap to recovery’ is due to be announced on or after 22nd February. We hope this roadmap will include clarification of when non-elite football can resume, and under what conditions. We can then decide upon the outcome of the 2020/21 season. No-one wants to delay this any longer than necessary.

Lessons of Covid
The pandemic has brought out the best – and worst – in people. It has taught us all new lessons and reinforced others that we already knew. It would be naive to assume that there will not be any further disruption next season, so we must plan for that disruption.
The Trident Leagues are already looking at how to create the necessary flexibility in the 2021/22 programme to deal with any disruption. These steps may include starting the 2021/22 season earlier and planning fixtures differently to make it much easier to implement an alternate competition should circumstances demand. Obviously, the outcome of the season will also have a major bearing on whether the NLS can be re-structured ahead of next season.
Winter Survival Fund
After protracted discussions with government, the Winter Survival Fund has made £10m, in grants available to clubs at Steps 3 – 6. Step 3 clubs can access up to £27,000 and Step 4 clubs up to £15,000. A further pot of £4m is available to help clubs for whom these amounts are not enough to prevent closure.
Whilst far from perfect, the WSF is a step in the right direction. Its major flaw is that, as highlighted to government, the WSF disadvantages financially prudent clubs. Government’s response is that the fund’s purpose is to stop any club going under.
The WSF is not a handout. Government wants to focus taxpayers’ money on keeping clubs alive. We need to bear in mind that government’s long-standing position was to offer loans only until they were finally persuaded otherwise.
To date, 251 clubs have applied for £2.9m. Roughly half of NPL clubs have made applications. Applications being fast-tracked; some clubs have received offer letters.

FA Trophy
Together with the Southern League, the NPL has been pressing the FA to compensate non-elite clubs that made a loss in this season’s FA Trophy ties when playing elite clubs BCD or in playing other nonelite clubs. I am hopeful that there will be positive news on this shortly and will keep you posted.

Trident Community Fund
The board considered and endorsed a number of applications shortlisted by the sub-committee that evaluated all applications for funding from the new Trident Community Fund.
Six applications have now made it through the first two stages of approval and will be considered by the main Trident Community Fund board, which includes the other Trident Leagues, representatives of our main sponsor and an independent chair. This group meets next week so applicants, successful
or otherwise, should be notified shortly afterwards.

I recognise that clubs want as much information as possible during times of uncertainty. I have tried to share all I can right now without breaking confidentiality. Hopefully, the situation will be much clearer by the end of this month.”

FA email (Friday 12th February)

National League System Step 3 to 6 update

“We wish to provide the following update to Clubs in relation to the potential continuation or curtailment of the 2020/21 season at Steps 3 to 6 of the National League System (NLS).

The Alliance Committee (Steps 3 & 4) and Leagues Committee (Steps 5 & 6) met on 8 and 9 February, respectively, to discuss the data that was collated following the recent surveys circulated to Clubs at this level of the game.

During discussions, the Committees acknowledged the likelihood that the Prime Minister will set out a ‘roadmap’ to the nation on 22 February as to how Government intend to begin to reduce the current COVID-19 restrictions.

Given that any such update from the Government on 22 February may provide the Committees with additional, relevant information to help determine the preferred route forward, they have agreed to reconvene after this date.

In addition, the Alliance Committee are also conscious of the ongoing process the National League (Steps 1 & 2) are undertaking and the potential impact this could have on any actions the Committee may choose to take.

We will provide an update in due course.”

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