Take a look at the poster above. The play-off final. Only it’s not the final to gain you promotion! Confused? You should be! The beautiful game once again is in a mess below the Football League and into our grassroots.
Now the FA have for the last few years been creating a proper or perfect pyramid underneath the professional game. This I can understand why and the reasons behind it, reduce the amount of the travel for part time players as much as they can whilst encouraging bigger crowds with less time on the road for visiting supporters, keeping it local is the key.
But this ‘obsession’ almost has made a complete farce of this season for those involved in the play-offs. What’s made it even worse than the case of Tonbridge Angels is teams competing in the play-offs at Step 4 being unable to win promotion even if they had won their play off final! I don’t blame you if you’re lost already, it takes some getting your head around, but makes an absolute mockery of the 38-46 games you’ve already played just to participate in the end of season bash.
Let’s start with the Angels. A fantastic season capped off with play-off football for the Kent outfit, a semi final win over Haringey Borough, who themselves enjoyed a great first season at Bostik Premier Division level, led to the final in the poster you see above. Only winning this final, which Tonbridge did, doesn’t give you promotion to the Conference South.
Why? Because there is a super play-off this Saturday where the Angels must beat Met Police to go up thanks to the FA and their insistence the pyramid must happen as soon as possible and it’s even more farcical that next season the process returns to normal! Messing around with the game like this certainly doesn’t do them any favours in the non-league circle, it’s bad enough they have no control over the Premier League and its lopsided riches. I totally understand what they are trying to do and to create, but surely there is a more robust and sensible way?
Talking of sensible ways, moving into Step 4 and it becomes beyond comical. Clubs involved in the play-offs at this level found out that even if they won through to their final and triumphed, a points per game average against the rest of the country deemed they were not allowed to be promoted and all to get a pyramid in shape. For a lot of clubs this season has been a waste of time, money and effort if you haven’t finished first and guaranteed you’ve gone up. Why go to such lengths to mess things around for just one season?
As already seen via the Non League Paper, these sets of play-offs will disappear and revert back to normal for 2019-20 and in some cases actually increase the promotion places at Steps 5 and 6, so why couldn’t the FA have made this a gradual process and looked after it’s members instead undoing a season’s work for quite a few clubs? It’s something I don’t think we’ll ever understand or know the right answer despite what the FA preach.
It’s still the beautiful game, stop messing with it………….
*These views represent mine alone and are in no way connected to Tonbridge Angels or any serving club officials.
Image courtesy of Tonbridge Angels.