On Wednesday we received the expected news that the 2020/21 season has been declared null and void. This was the press release issued by the FA:
The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees have now considered the large amount of data and information submitted by clubs across the National League System (NLS) Steps 3-6 as part of a survey to gather views on the continuation or conclusion of the 2020-21 league season, in addition to the information set out in the Government’s roadmap this week. Submissions were made by 99.1% of clubs at Steps 3 and 4, and 95.8% of clubs at Steps 5 and 6. We would like to thank the clubs for submitting their views and the time taken in providing responses during what we appreciate is an incredibly challenging period for everyone.
The results of the survey showed that over 76% of all clubs across Steps 3-6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020-21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before 1 April 2021. During this process, taking into account views of clubs and leagues it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option. This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements which had resulted in there being 81% of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75% at Steps 5 and 6.
Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees have reached a consensus that subject to the approval of FA Council, the 2020-21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the NLS should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season. The Committees will now present their collective recommendations to The FA Council for ratification. It has also been decided that subject to FA Council’s decision regarding the curtailment of the season at Steps 3 to 6, both committees will revisit discussions around a potential restructure at Steps 4-6 of the NLS, which was previously agreed and has been on hold since the 2019-20 season. A further update on this will be provided in due course.
Hitchin Town Football Club are pleased to announce that our charity partnerships have been confirmed for the 2021/22 season and we will once again be supporting:
- Garden House Hospice
- Stevenage Haven
- Herts Disability Sports Foundation
Fundraising opportunities have understandably been paused during the pandemic, and with Hitchin’s 2020/21 season now halted with immediate effect, we have been unable to fulfil our commitment to our current affiliated charities. It therefore makes absolute sense to continue our partnership for another season and support three wonderful charities who carry out such great work.
We look forward to working with representatives of all three charities in the near future and are hopeful we can bring some exciting fundraising ideas to life.
ACADEMY UPDATE BY MICHAEL JONES
After the government announcement on Monday for reducing restrictions in coming weeks, we are now in the process of finalising our preparations for a safe return to education and training. We are currently due to return to lessons and training on Monday 8th March, something that I know all the players and staff are really excited about.
We are still in the process of recruiting for next season, if this is something you are interested in or want to find out more information then please register your details here – https://www.northhertsarena.co.uk/next-trial-dates
CANARY PODCAST BY FREDDIE CARDY
Our latest interview is with St. Albans City goalkeeper Michael Johnson for Episode 29, and we begin by looking back on his current side’s FA Cup win over his former side Hitchin Town last year, behind closed doors. MJ reveals some of the positives of playing with no fans, including an entertaining story from his time at Top Field. He has many positive memories from working with Charlie Horlock at HTFC, and shares his thoughts on the news that the Step 2 seasons (National League North and South) have been declared null and void following a vote. We also get some tips from Michael about penalty shoot-outs and how to bounce back from bad performances, as well as reminiscing on the 2018 FA Cup campaign and win over Leatherhead. Finally, MJ gives a surprisingly calm and collected analysis of what’s going wrong at Liverpool FC, a day after their 2-0 defeat to Everton at Anfield.
Look out for some more podcasts and interviews coming soon!
UPDATE FROM KATE DELLER
It has been a great week and things ‘seem’ a little brighter. Yes the league has been curtailed, not great, but in terms of getting jobs done it is definitely helpful. The sun has shone more and that always puts a smile on people’s faces, COVID figures are improving, some great maintenance has been done at Top Field and we have a new volunteer on board to help push supporter engagement.
Having had a Zoom meeting with Sascha Gustard-Brown our new Supporter Engagement Officer, we are really excited for you and your families. There are some great ideas which we hope to bring to you in the next season. The one and only good thing we can see out of COVID is that it has allowed us the time to do these things.
As volunteers it is extremely hard to juggle, full time jobs, family life, stadium refurbishment and new ideas. But juggle we will and thankfully we are so lucky with our volunteers, we could not wish for more splendid people, always ready to help with a smile; no matter how miserable the world has been.
Fingers crossed this momentum keeps going, we desperately want to get football back on and the Social Club open to put a smile back on Digger’s face! Keep safe everyone and see you all soon!
BY ROY IZZARD