The Football Association is weighing up telling all clubs below the National Leagues North and South that their season must end immediately.
While the professional game has been suspended due to the escalating Covid-19 situation, the FA has been going through consultation and scenario-planning with stakeholders across English football.
Matches have been suspended throughout non-league and the FA hosted a web seminar for step five and six leagues in the non-league pyramid on Tuesday.
A statement from the Essex Senior League confirming the decision to end the season was, in fact, premature, but the PA news agency understands clubs are braced for the campaigns to be halted.
(2/4) The consensus was there is no option of any football being played for the rest of this season due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Even if the FA were to extend, it wasn't going to be possible to complete remaining games, also subject to being allowed to socialise by May.
— Essex Senior League (@EssexSenior) March 24, 2020
An FA spokesperson said: “We remain in regular dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders regarding next steps across both the men’s and women’s National League pyramid and grassroots football, following the impact of the Coronavirus.
“No official decision has been made yet, but we will make a further announcement at the appropriate time.
“Our primary concern is for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff and supporters during this unprecedented time.”
Assuming the seasons are finished The FA must then decide whether to determine the final standings by average points per game, or declare them null and void.
The sticking point appears to be that clubs in the National League – formerly the Conference – and the National Leagues North and South in the tier below, want to complete their seasons.
Isthmian League chairman Nick Robinson said in a statement: “The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019-20 season immediately.
“The step five and six Leagues also support the immediate termination of the season.
“Whether that is done on the basis of determining final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null and void cannot be determined until the National League decides how it wishes to proceed.
https://t.co/zVaaicv1hL Isthmian League statement, 24th March 2020.
— The Isthmian League (@IsthmianLeague) March 24, 2020
“Right now, the National League’s position is that they wish to be able to resume the 2019-20 season at some point.
“The feeder leagues do not support this because our clubs do not have the financial resources to continue to honour player contracts indefinitely.
“The step three and four Leagues have therefore commenced the process to terminate the season. This has to be ratified by the FA Council, so there may be a short delay as the relevant documentation is submitted, distributed and approved.”