North West Counties Football League managers weren't shocked by the decision to end the season early

Neither Garstang FC nor Longridge Town have expressed surprise that the 2020/21 non-league season will be scrapped with immediate effect, subject to FA Council ratification.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:45 pm

The decision appeared to be inevitable after the National League North and South – the bottom rung of the elite level of football – voted to declare their season null and void last month.

The proposed curtailment was announced last Wednesday after the Prime Minister’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions had pencilled in the return of outdoor sport – including grassroots football – from March 29.

The FA had responded to that by announcing the grassroots season would be extended until the end of June.

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Longridge Town haven't played since the end of December Picture: Adam Gee

That extension won’t apply to competitions including those from steps three to six of the National League System – including the North West Counties Football League.

The FA then announced the anticipated early finish to the non-league season with a statement last Wednesday.

It would mean an early end to a second consecutive season for Garstang and Longridge, neither of whom have played since December.

The decision didn’t shock Garstang boss, Richard Cookney, nor his Longridge counterpart, Lee Ashcroft.

Cookney’s Riversiders squad were 11th in the NWCFL First Division North when the season was put on hold just before the New Year.

They had managed to play seven of their scheduled 36 games, though other clubs had played as few as three.

Cookney said: “We kind of knew it was going to happen, so it wasn’t a surprise.

“Trying to look for the positives, at least we now know when we come back in June, it looks like it will be a normal season and that all the cup competitions and leagues are going to be happening.

“The only thing we don’t know yet is what’s going to be happening with promotion and relegation.”

Town, meanwhile, were 13th in the Premier Division after only playing four of their 38 matches.

Ashcroft added: “I think we always knew it would happen, it was just a matter of time until they made the decision.

“It’s the right decision and at least it means we can dust ourselves down and we can start to put plans in place.”

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