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The Football Association News

N L S Conference Step 5 & 6 Leagues Forum - 20 June

National League System
Step 5 & 6 Leagues Forum - Held On Line Friday 19th June 2020

SCENARIO PLANNING Roadmap to the return of the NLS - access link at foot of page

Chairman’s opening remarks
Good Afternoon everyone, Thank you for joining the conference today – We hope that you and your families are keeping safe and well.

I should just like to mention that we are aware that we have lost some of our colleagues during this horrific pandemic – and would like to specifically mention Mike Appleby – Mike’s passing was a terrible shock to us all, a tragedy for his family and those who had worked with Mike and those who were up until recently still working alongside him. I would like to pay tribute to Mike for all of the great work that he carried out whilst at the FA and latterly at the Spartan South Midlands League.

Mike was the father and creator of the National League System as we know it today, can I ask that we hold a few moments of contemplation for Mike and for those others who have been taken by this Virus who were part of our National League System Family.

Thank you

We are here this afternoon to try as best we can to update you on what has become a very fast moving situation of late.

I must emphasise that we are in total unchartered times, as such we have no precedence as to how we should deal with the circumstances that we find ourselves in.

Following are last meeting of the Step 5 & 6 Leagues Forum, the FA Council decided that for football at Steps 3 to 7, the 2019-20 season was concluded and that the results were expunged, and as a result they decided that there would be no promotion or relegation between any of the steps at 3 to 7.

The FA Leagues Committee at their meeting held earlier this week have confirmed that the decision previously made by FA Council, means that there will be NO promotions or relegations between the Steps 3 and 7. In fact to clarify, the only movement of clubs within the steps permissible for the 2020-2021 season will be as follows:-

1. To receive at steps 5 and or 6 any Step 4 or Step 3 Clubs that have sought voluntary relegation. In addition, such clubs will not be replaced at Step 4 via any promotion from Step 5.
2. As per FA Regulations, the FALC will consider applications from any New Clubs for allocation at Step 6 – at present the North West Counties League are the only League to have made such an application – being for AFC Bury and FC Isle of Man – both applications currently sit before the FALC.
3. Lateral Movement will be considered within a step – but only where such is appropriate – ie that Clubs are swapping Leagues, with the agreement of the two clubs and their Leagues, or that the FALC feel that lateral movement is imperative for this season to assist with the allocations, this will only be considered in a scenario of real need, as major lateral movements will take place at the end of this season in the planned but now delayed restructure.

So, please understand, there can be no promotions at steps 5, 6, & 7 nor relegations at Steps 5 & 6, whilst we have total sympathy with Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors and the other clubs who had a real chance of promotion, as a Committee we have to look at the situation which does not cover just one or two Clubs, but all of the Clubs at steps 5, 6 and 7 in its entirety.

I will shortly ask James Earl to give you a presentation on the various scenarios we have in the planning for how and when we might start the 2020-2021 season, but I must impress upon you that such timeframe and the physical implications as to how this can happen are totally out of our hands until such time as the Government give the country the green light on resuming non professional sport and the restrictions that they will place upon such. Rest assured that the FA Executive are working closely with DCMS to identify the protocols that will allow the NLS to start.

As you are aware The FA are facing a £300 million shortfall in its income over the next 4 years, and yesterday announced a package of cuts that form the revised National Game Budget for the next 4 years.

The National Game have been given a £22 Million cut in its budget allocation and all areas of the National Game have been cut. This is a cut amounting to 38% of its allocation.

One direct cut affecting Steps 1 to 7 with immediate effect is that there will no longer be any League Development Grant funding. However, the League Admin Funding remains unchanged.

FA Cup Prize money reverts back to the levels as they were two years ago. Thus down from £3,984,000 to £1,992,000 for those rounds that affect Steps 3, 4, 5 & 6 – ie up until 1st Round proper.

FA Vase and Trophy will see a 6% cut, being £10,000 from each prize fund , this is to be used to allow the FA Sunday Cup to continue.

There are some of you who are intimating that this stance of no relegations or promotions is not for you and want to allow clubs to be promoted within your Leagues, this cannot happen, We are all in this together and must stand together, similarly we are inextricably linked to the Alliance Committee and as such need to follow their proposals – one of which is they cannot restart until such time as matches can be played with supporters present. Some of you may say, well at say Step 6 there are very few supporters and at such matches this can be easily managed, however if at Steps 5 & 6 we start before Steps 3 and 4, then you will find a flood of people turning up at Step 6 matches as they are the only matches available for people attend, which would then contravene Government Regulations. Thus we must remain together in this as a untied set of Leagues.

As I say, we are in unchartered waters, we are doing our best to steer us out of this pandemic as much in tact as we can, we can only do this if we remain a unified body.

Please hold your questions until James has delivered his presentation, I am aware we have requested that you ask only one question each, his presentation may answer your immediate query, and also covers those we have received in advance.

So, just to let you know, James, Matt and Laurence together with other FA Executives have been scenario planning, they have already presented the various scenarios which James will present to you to the Alliance and Leagues Committees. He is currently drafting a club guidance document that will assist clubs in meeting all stringent requirements being set by government on the return to football.

I can tell you that the three of them are working 24/7 on these projects – they are flat out and in need of a rest, but are working as best they can to provide you with a viable method of starting the new season.

Mark Frost
Chair of The FA Leagues Committee

SCENARIO PLANNING Roadmap to the return of the NLS - Presentation by James Earl

Click to access slide presentation.