Dolly Blues' boss Mark Fell doubts season will finish

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell will be highly surprised if there is another ball kicked in the conventional football season due to the coronavirus.

Thursday, 19th March 2020, 1:54 pm

The Northern Premier League fell in line with the rest of the country when it suspended all games until further notice after a Board meeting on Monday.

The regular season was due to come to a close next month, with play-off games stretching the campaign into the early part of May.

However, the season will almost certainly not finish then and the ramifications of that are still unknown.

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Lancaster City's Paul Dawson. Picture: Tony North

There appear to be three options available – either the season is declared null and void, it is delayed until a later date and then completed, or the league table is frozen as it is.

If the latter was to happen then Lancaster would benefit as they occupy a position in the Premier Division play-offs, although they are just one point above sixth-placed Nantwich, who have played three games fewer. “I don’t know how it’s going to pan out or how it will be concluded, if it is going to be concluded,” said Fell.

“With the speed of it all, I will be amazed if we play again.

“I really don’t know what the options are.

“One is for null and void, which would be met with a great deal of dissatisfaction from many people and great joy from others who are in the relegation places.

“They are not going to make everybody happy.

“If we had our way then they would freeze this league now – you can’t give points to teams who have games in hand.

“I think that would be our preferred option because that would mean we would have a play-off game to play if we were to get back to playing some football.

“I really don’t know what the options are and that’s going to be the worst thing as we are all going to be in a state of limbo.”

Fell admitted he was left feeling a little uncomfortable that last Saturday’s fixture against Witton Albion went ahead at Giant Axe.

Despite both the Premier League and the EFL suspending their respective campaigns on Friday the NPL decided to press ahead with last weekend’s fixtures.

Some games ended up being postponed anyway due to concerns that some players had been exposed to the disease.

But Lancaster’s 1-1 draw with Witton was one of 19 fixtures to be completed across the three divisions

However, due to the alarming rise in the spread of coronavirus, the NPL on Monday decided to call a halt to the season.

The attendance at Giant Axe at the weekend was 84% higher than the previous home game. And part of the league’s reasoning behind its decision not to suspend games last Saturday was the financial impact it would have on its member clubs.

Fell felt that was the wrong judgement call and, even though he admitted the break in play will undoubtedly affect clubs financially, the health of players, officials and supporters should always come first.

“I didn’t think the league had the right to dictate when people’s health is involved,” he said.

“I didn’t think it was the right decision to play on Saturday personally.

“The league didn’t put it right when they said the financial security of their clubs was paramount.

“I think that was in pretty bad taste in terms of people’s health and what’s happening around the world.

“Some games in the division were postponed and we had concerns among our squad.

“Rob Wilson decided not to play because of his own personal circumstances with regards to his family and elderly relatives.

“We had one or two others who were certainly reluctant about playing. That made it a little bit more difficult for us in terms of getting a result.

“But I think the league has now made the right decision.

“It looks like the whole world is going to be massively affected the next few months.”

Fell revealed he has given his squad the week off from training and that could extend to a longer period).

He has asked his players to maintain their fitness levels by training on their own.