Leek Town have joined 65 other non-league clubs in signing a letter to the Football Association, describing their decision to expunge the season as “unacceptable” and one that needs to be discussed with teams as soon as possible.
The news comes after Leek chairman Jon Eeles vented his frustration following the outcome’s fruition, ending all seasons between steps three and seven immediately, with all results being nulled.
The Blues were top of the BetVictor Northern Premier League South East Division, streaking away from the chasing pack with title rivals Stamford AFC, and would have been crowned champions if the season concluded on a points-to-game ratio.
Eeles is a Finance Director at KMF Group in addition to his leading role at Harrison Park and anticipated the authorities would call full-time on the campaign several weeks before it became headline news.
But with that being said, he is no less annoyed by the FA’s actions. Being stripped of a title is just about tolerable; the financial implications are a different matter altogether.
Eeles said: “That is a bigger issue, and that’s where I am extremely disappointed.
“I’m disappointed with our FA as leaders of football at all levels. This is late coming, and they deserve all the criticism they will get; they are not reflective of what the game is like anymore.
“We were left with 10 games, seven at home, which is roughly £20,000 worth of income. We can’t play those games because of the current situation; however, we still have all the costs.
“There has been no guidance on what to do with player contracts. Worst case scenario is that we have to pay them the full amount for the next seven weeks with no income.
“Otherwise, we’ll risk seeing those players in court in three months’ time, suing us under a breach of contract.
“The contract the players sign with the FA is not fit for purpose – it’s out of date. They could have adapted it years ago, and it’s only now due to a crisis that they’ll change it.”
Any club with contracted players will encounter the same issues. Stoke City defender Stephen Ward recently said that he expects teammates and other professional footballers will take pay cuts to help save their respective clubs financially amidst the coronavirus outbreak.
And despite worrying about wages, Eeles has confidence his players will react to being denied of a place in history in the best possible fashion.
He explained: “They’ll be disappointed, but knowing the lads and how they are, they’ll take it forward to next year when they’ll be up for it again.
“Supporters have taken it particularly badly, because they feel as though there’s a sense of injustice.
“They [the FA]could have done points-per-game, or they could have given you some kind of incentive next year where you start with extra points, or anything!
“But it’s just one of those things, we’ve just got to get on with it, dust ourselves down and go again next season.”
The decision is affecting many of our local clubs – Nantwich Town’s play-off push has been halted in its tracks, with Stafford Rangers avoiding relegation.
Like the Jersey Bulls and Vauxhall Motors who had already secured promotion in their respective leagues, Eeles feels his club has been hard done by.
He added: “It was the easiest decision for the FA; there’s 20 teams in the league and 16 or 17 of them are hardly affected. It’s disappointing for us because of the position we are in.
“But, we are in an unprecedented time and football is not the biggest thing in everyone’s life at the moment. There are far bigger issues on people’s doorsteps.
“There are businesses, families and individuals suffering up and down the country and that’s what we’ve got to focus on.”