Have we reached the saturation point of the season? That really should be on the minds of most in the footballing world and starting to be talked about with regards to the remainder of the season.
Despite an almost blanket cover of the South in tier 4 for non-league football and for a majority no football played since the beginning of November, the question now is whether the game and its players will be harmed more in 2021 trying to finish off a season that in some cases has barely begun.
The Christmas and New Year period has seen the ‘elite level’ of non-league football in the National League suffer from no fewer than 12 clubs across their three divisions postpone their next three games after positive covid tests.
Having started the season later than most in October due to the late resolution of the play-off system and despite the season likely to end in June it is looking like a big ask for those with smaller squads to perform to a good standard playing twice a week until then.
With the FA seemingly hell-bent on completing this season FA Trophy despite last season’s final still not being held and played yet more postponements in the new year will see clubs struggle to play at 100% capacity for every single game they face.
And when you think a majority of these clubs are full time, imagine how it is for those part-time clubs that make up the remainder of the footballing pyramid.
Those in the South have on the whole completed almost one third of their season when you look down at Step 5 and 6, Step 3 and 4 are not so fortunate in most cases and as you head further North the picture looks even bleaker.
There are sides who have completed somewhere in the region of 2-6 league games only, that is an alarmingly small rate for any club to be looking at if they are committed to finishing the season to ‘preserve its integrity’.
Whilst I’m an optimistic person to the hilt, surely this is beyond the scope of part-time non-league clubs to be able to finish 34-46 games this season in time before the thoughts would turn to a new season beginning.
The biggest worry though has to be the issue of player match fitness. By the time the end of December comes that will be two full months of no games for players, are we expecting them now to come back and play at full pelt for around six months and not suffer physically? Is their room for another mini pre-season before we get started again? Quite frankly, no! We shouldn’t be expecting it and I think the next couple of weeks will see some serious discussions across the country which need to be led by the FA to help these leagues sort out the mess that it currently is.
This time the FA must show some stellar leadership rather than the whimper they provided the game back in April. It also can’t and shouldn’t be a one size fits all scenario, I appreciate though that this time that might have to be the case but explain it clearly and simply and you might get a more measured response from people.
Plenty will not agree with whatever decision is made, just the same as earlier this year, I’m not sure you can have half the country able to finish a season and the other half with an impossible situation.
Whether it can be completed with sides playing each other just once if there are under a certain level of games played in a division I don’t know, it’s surely an option to happen and would allow time for clubs to get themselves settled and organised again.
I don’t envy anyone involved in making any of these decisions for a situation we haven’t been involved in ourselves before, you just pray some common sense and logical thinking comes into it, hold my beer…………….