Preston Grasshoppers' relegation from National League North Two is confirmed

Preston Grasshoppers management team have taken a philosophical approach to the  news that their   relegation from National League Two North has been confirmed.
Preston Grasshoppers in action against Fylde this seasonPreston Grasshoppers in action against Fylde this season
Preston Grasshoppers in action against Fylde this season

Hoppers were certain for the drop in the National League North Two, second from bottom – just one point away from being relegated with five games of the season left.

However, the coronavirus pandemic forrced the RFU to finish the season early.

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Confusion did reign over what will happen going forward, with the possibility that Hoppers may escape relegation as there was no clear favourite to replace them for the division below.

But the RFU met last week and have adopted a controversial system to determine final tables, compiled by calculating each team’s average score for home and away matches, and applying those scores to their outstanding fixtures.

By that system Hoppers would have calculated 34.52 points and they have been relegated along with bottom side Scunthorpe and third bottom Otley.

Hoppers director of rugby Gareth Dyer said the club had already put plans in place for every eventuality and in any case, the club’s sole concern at the moment was the safety of everybody associated with the club and the wider public.

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“Clearly this an unprecedented situation with the season having been abandoned in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Talking about rugby when there are more important issues.

“It seems almost disrespectful when we know some of the Hoppers family have been unwell or have family/friends who’ve been unwell so we pray for their recovery.

“In terms of the RFU decision to complete league standings then they were left with a difficult predicament.

“Whatever decision they took would’ve left some clubs feeling short changed but sometimes you’ve just got to take the bigger picture into account and get behind decisions.

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“For us we’ve been planning for this eventuality for a while so we will continue to do so now with some certainty.

“However now is not the time to say anything more than we look forward to seeing all of the rugby family on the other side of this.”

Fylde – who are second in the table – have missed out on the possibility of promotion via a play-off against the team finishing second in the National League Two South, who are currently Tonbridge.

However, with no hope of the play-off match taking place, it is Tonbridge who were promoted on the basis they had amassed more points than Fylde – eight more from the 25 games played – albeit in an entirely different competition.