The Football Association are there to serve all.
Whether that’s the dreams of a seven-year-old girl putting on her boots for the first time or a £200,000-a-week striker hitting the back of the net to notch his 200th goal.
From top to bottom, the FA have a duty of care. They sit at the top of an increasingly uneven pyramid that is skewed so heavily in favour of the haves that many have-nots are barely visible.
The thing is the have-nots in the grassroots and part-time game cannot be forgotten because if you lose them the whole pyramid topples over. You’re only as strong as your foundations and the FA would do well to remember that.
Coronavirus may have changed everything. Yet we will, one day, come out of the other side of it. And when we do, people won’t forget how organisations and businesses acted at this troubled time – which is why the FA needed to make the right call on how to deal with what looks like an unfinished 2019/20 season.
They needed to lead the way and show that all levels of our country’s pyramid mattered equally. That every level, team, fan, manager and helper meant something to them. But they haven’t.
They’ve washed their hands of all of those involved from Step Three of the non-League pyramid (the level below Lynn) and below. Their results have been expunged. Made null and void. Scrapped. Removed. Call it what you want.
While the smoke of those seasons starts to clear, you can see Lynn’s level and the one above still waiting for a definitive decision while their campaigns have been suspended indefinitely. If you peer hard enough you might be able to see the big wigs scrambling to find a solution that suits those at the top; the Football and Premier Leagues.
That courtesy wasn’t offered to the, rightly, furious clubs like Downham Town who have been discarded. Possible promotion for the first time in three decades pulled from beneath them.
The only way the FA can restore faith at the lower levels now – and for good – is by rolling out their Step 3-7 non-League treatment across the pyramid. To make us all feel like haves.
Or, they can take on board the feedback of more than 100 clubs who have signed a petition to demand a change to their approach about the lower tiers.
Everyone knows they wouldn’t want to be in the FA’s shoes dealing with this fallout. But they’re only taking such a kicking because they haven’t been fair across the board.
Legal action about declaring seasons null and void will follow from clubs like Vauxhall Motors who had already been promoted. Or other teams like Stowmarket Town who were within a few points of achieving the same feat and had invested to go up. Even Anglian Combination Division Two champions-in-waiting Heacham.
Their efforts and success should count for something. Ideally a points-per-game scenario, which rewards what has gone before. It’s all we have right now in these unprecedented time. It seems the lesser of two evils when compared to null and void. But if that’s the FA’s stance it has to be a level playing field and apply to all for credibility to remain (sorry Liverpool fans).
When this heartbreaking world is a lot happier, whenever that is, the FA will be judged on what they did now. If that relationship is damaged now for some, it may well be ruined for good because it’s just as easy to get out of the routine and fall out of love with football than it is to enter a love affair with it.
HAVE YOUR SAY
What do you think to the FA’s treatment of the lower-levels of the game? Is null and void the best option? Have other sports got it right or wrong? Email your thoughts to email@example.com
Not since the Second World War has there been such an unprecedented halt to sport.
Yet with more than three-quarters of the season completed before football came to a standstill, the FA had a series of options at their disposal.
1: Finish season
It’s right that football and sport was stopped but it will return. The thing is we just don’t know when.
It’s hard to summise what the knock-on effect would be for future seasons, depending on when the action can resume but with some teams only needing four to six weeks to complete their remaining fixtures, there’s a strong case for 2019/20 being completed before the next campaign begins.
PPG is the only scenario that doesn’t involve further games or wiping out results that have already been declared.
Put simply, a team’s current points total divided by how many games they have played would create a points-per-game total that creates a final set of standings and allow promotions and relegations to stand.
3: Null and void
Because the season cannot be completed in regulation time, some say it’s fairer to not finish it at all.
This sees all results removed and no champions crowned with promotions and relegations scrapped.
The RFU announced the end of all leagues – apart from the top-flight – on March 20.
The decision to call time on the 2019/20 campaign caused double heartbreak for West Norfolk. It ended the table-toppers’ hopes of London 3 Eastern Counties promotion and reaching the Senior Vase final at Twickenham.
Nationally, the sport has been suspended until April 15 by hockey’s governing body.
However, the East League – where King’s Lynn’s Pelicans feature – didn’t wait. On March 19 they closed the curtain on the campaign and used a percentage points basis to formulate their final standings.
Formula 1 have cancelled or postponed eight races but currently hope to stage between 15 and 18 races at some point in 2020.
Locally, King’s Lynn Stars also remain in limbo until the summer as it stands. Speedway chiefs say there will be no British events taking place before at least June 15.