Glossop North End joint-manager Peter Band believes the decision to null and void the season was the right course of action - although he feels incredibly sorry for the teams who were destined for promotion.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Northern Premier League - which includes the BetVictor Premier Division, North West, and South East - made the decision to cancel the remaining fixtures of the 2019/20 season and expunge all results in the process.
The Hillmen, who were forced to compete in the South East Division last season, after having an appeal to compete in the North West was rejected by the Football Association, ended their campaign in 14th spot and 15 points above the relegation zone, with eight games remaining.
While not mathematically safe, Band felt his side possessed enough quality to end the season positively and avoid the drop, although he does empathise with teams at the top of the table, including leaders Leek Town, who were 15 points above third place Cleethorpes Town, and two points above Stamford in second.
Speaking to Chronicle Sport about the decision, Band said: “Before lockdown took effect, I would have wanted to finish the season, but three months down the line I’m beginning to think the decision was made hastily.
“I feel sorry for Leek and Stamford as they were the two best sides, and, in the division above, South Shields threw a lot of money at gaining promotion and were well on course to achieve that, but then had their legal case dismissed earlier this week. I feel sorry for them, but unfortunately, if teams are going to throw money to achieve promotion next season, they could come unstuck.”
Non-league clubs could potentially miss out on thousands of pounds next season, as a delayed start to the season, which is looking increasingly more likely, would mean clubs lower down the pyramid would miss out on featuring in the money-spinning FA Cup.
Of the situation, Band said: “We’ve seen how important the FA Cup can be for some of our local clubs like Hyde United and Curzon Ashton. It’s about giving the minnows the chance to beat the giants.
“If it comes to it and the FA aren’t going to include clubs like ours in the competition, should the FA reimburse us all?
“We were pressured into travelling to Carlton Town for the last game of the season before lockdown hit, which meant we stumped up for coach travel and the players’ wages. A week or so later, a decision was made to cancel the season and expunge all results. It was a needless waste of money, and for clubs like ourselves and others at our level, you can’t afford to be throwing away money like that.”
Following the Government’s latest announcement regarding exercise and social distancing, Band is awaiting a decision from club secretary Dan Bates on whether players can return to training in the coming weeks.
However, even if he’s given the nod of approval, Band is unsure as to whether the club’s coaches and players will be willing to return amid the ongoing situation.
He’s already lost the services of two key players, with Moussa Samassa and Jeremy Seosolo returning to France in the past seven days.
Band, who has been using his spare time to complete online coaching courses, believes the nature of non-league football will shift rapidly - and he even expects some of the ‘bigger’ teams to struggle without a benefactor.
“I think some of the managers who’ve had money in the past will struggle to get the best players with the current financial situation,” he said.
“Regardless of how teams did in the 2019/20 season, if they don’t have that extra money, good players will be reluctant to travel the extra distance to join them.
“Managers will actually have to manage more, as they won’t have that financial clout behind them.”
Off the pitch, Amdec Forklifts, who sponsor the club’s Surrey Street stadium, is expected to renew that deal in the coming weeks.
However, due to the cancellation of the annual Beer Festival, the club has missed out on thousands of pounds worth of revenue.
An in-depth interview with secretary Dan Bates will be featured on Tameside Radio’s Saturday Sport Show, which returns on Saturday, June 20.
Picture by Steve Dyson