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Step 3 mini-league merger: "It's possible" says FA councilman

calendario 10.03.2021
by: Zach
  • England
  • Vanarama National
Step 3 mini-league merger: "It's possible" says FA councilman

National League clubs and authorities are “doing extraordinary things to just to get football being played,” according to Anthony Hughes, an FA Alliance Council-member, and Vice-Chair of the Southern League. Hughes’ recent words come a month after 18 National League North and South clubs launched the #LetUsPlay campaign in response to a step-wide “null and void” vote. 

The campaign, spearheaded by the National League North and South’s respective league-leaders York City and Gloucester City, suggested a mini-league competition. When their step null-and-voided, several of the larger clubs, including the majority of those in the National League clubs, wished to power through and kick on. A mini-league proposal presents an opt-in opportunity to keep playing before the 21/22 season starts. The plans outline a competition in which teams from the National Leagues North and South could face each other once to compete for promotion spaces to the National League’s top flight.

Since the proposal in early February, Havant and Waterlooville have dropped out of contention from the 18 teams. However, plans suggest that any club, even those who voted to “null and void” the season, could still join if they so wish.

One of the mini-league’s chief proponents, Gloucester City chairman Mark Petheram, stated that “the finals can be played at Gloucester free of charge to the league and clubs, as we’re in the middle of the country.” Petheram issued these remarks before addressing a letter, with the other National League North and South clubs involved, to the National League boss Mark Ives.

Ives since said he would be open to looking at “alternative” options to the “null and void” vote’s finality.

Anthony Hughes’ latest discussion of the mini-league proposal on the BBC Non-League Show breathes new life into National League North and South promotion hopes. Hughes himself stated that “if you said to me two years ago about this, I’d have laughed.” What’s clear is that, in 2021, we live in unprecedented times. 

The mini-league merger idea, whether realistic or not, allows large regional clubs to live out their National League dreams in an era beset by financial and sporting crises. It doesn’t seem immediately likely, but then again, this is the new normal.

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