Cash boost gives non-league clubs hope that 2020-21 season could re-start

Non-league clubs have been handed a glimmer of hope in their quest to play football again this season.
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The Government have announced this week that a pot of cash totalling £10m will be made available for semi-professional at steps three to six.

And that could mean clubs such as Lancaster City, Bamber Bridge, and Longridge Town will be able to apply for grants which will help them fulfil the rest of this season.

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Barely a ball has been kicked in anger in the NPL Premier Division or the NWC League since the beginning of November after the country was plunged into its second national lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lancaster boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)Lancaster boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)
Lancaster boss Mark Fell (photo:Tony North)

Although there was the possibility of re-starting the season in December, clubs were hesitant to do so on financial grounds.

With no fans allowed inside grounds, clubs had no income streams and would not have been in a position to pay player wages or their overheads.

Further countrywide restrictions imposed at the start of this year meant that the Trident Leagues decided to postpone the season until March 6, when they would carry out a further review.

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Lancaster City boss Mark Fell admitted that the possibility of playing football will still be dependent on the national lockdown being lifted, but the fact that cash will be made available is a huge positive.

“Effectively with the way this announcement was worded, this money will enable us to get through this season,” said Fell. “It would be very welcome, but I am still sceptical as to how it would be distributed.

"We will need to get a bit more detail and I understand there is going to be a lot to sort out in terms of when could we go back because there would need to be a relaxation of the restrictions and we probably looking at March at best.

"But it is a little bit of a glimmer of hope. We want to play – we want to get back to playing football.”

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With City having only played seven league games so far, Fell is unsure how the season would reach a conclusion.

He believes a plan to split the division has already been dismissed and it could be that the league will just carry on as it is with the season decided on a points-per-game ratio after a certain date.

“There’s an option to just say everybody plays each other once but I think that could cause problems,” he added.

“I think what they might do is just play the fixtures as they are and then say, ‘Right you have all played 30 games, let’s decide the season on a points-per-game system’.”