Promotion-chasing Barrow manager Ian Evatt has called for current positions to stand if no more games are possible in the National League – after the Football Association was asked to close the season as quickly as possible.
The National League board urged the season to end “as soon as possible for the purposes of player contracts” in a video conference call yesterday.
In the divisions below, where Nantwich Town and Leek Town have been bidding for promotion, there has been talk about working out tables using average points per game, as clubs unite to call for an immediate end.
Major arguments are inevitable in how to work out final standings, especially for Barrow, who have been on course to return to the Football League for the first time since the 1970s.
Evatt told the BBC: “If you were to play a 90-minute football match and something was to happen in the last 15 minutes of a game, the result would stand if it was abandoned. So why is it not the same for a full season?
“Now if this was halfway through the season or under, you can completely understand voiding a season. But we’re talking about, from some clubs’ perspective, seven games. Seven games away from completing the season.
“You cannot, you cannot, null and void it. We’ve been top for five months and no-one, no disrespect to anyone, has really come that close to us.
“From our perspective, the interest of fairness would be for us to be promoted and that is my view regardless of where I am right now because of how many games have been played and where we’re at in the season.”
The FA has said that no official decision has been taken yet regarding the end of the 2019/20 season.
National League chief executive Michael Tattersall said: “The broad consensus was that our clubs wish for a decision to be made to close the season as soon as possible.
“The FA have been asked to assist us with making the decisions to officially postpone all remaining National League fixtures and to end the season as soon as possible for the purposes of player contracts.
“The National League is also working with the FA to define all reasonable and practical options for the determination of the 2019-20 season, and to provide guidance to clubs on dealing with player contracts, player registrations and the application of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.”
Steps five and six in the pyramid have already ended their season, with promotion and relegation issues still to be decided.
And the Northern Premier League – including the Bet Victor Premier Division, where Nantwich have been in a push for the play-offs and Stafford Rangers have been fighting against relegation; and South East Division, where Leek are top – want to follow suit.
A statement from the Northern Premier League said: “The NPL, Isthmian and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019/20 season immediately. Whether that is done on the basis of determining the final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null and void cannot be decided until the National League’s intentions are confirmed.
“The NPL, Isthmian and Southern Leagues have made the FA of their wish to terminate the 2019-20 season, although any such decision has to be ratified by FA council.
“While this process is on-going, competition issues can then be decided, together with the implications for promotion and relegation.
“The league, via the Alliance, is lobbying the government, the Premier League and others for additional financial assistance. A recent survey amongst NPL clubs estimated the impact of Covid-19 on those clubs to be over £3.25m.”