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Non league manager wants to split divisions into two halves to finish the season

A non league club chairman and manager wants to wipe the slate clean and split divisions into two halves to finish the 2020/21 season.

The increased Covid-19 restrictions, and the spreading of the infection, are wreaking havoc on the ‘non-elite’ non league stage, from Step 3 and lower.

Leiston chief Andy Crisp believes that a viable option, to make sure that Steps 3 and 4 complete their halted campaigns, would be to wipe the slate clean and split the divisions into two halves.

He also believes the FA will try everything to avoid another null-and-void campaign and so they should!

Non-league: Leiston favour splitting Step 3 & 4 divisions in half to finish  season | East Anglian Daily Times

The suggestion goes on to add that sides would then play each other twice, in mini-leagues, with relegation and promotion still on the table, was muted during last week’s zoom meetings before a vote was taken to continue ‘pausing’ the season.

If Step 3 and Step 4 level football doesn’t resume, before the second weekend in January, then Crisp would favour splitting the divisions in half, to cut down on the number of fixtures needed to be played to complete the campaign.

The controversial idea comes with Leiston having won only one of their eight league matches, to sit second-from-bottom in the Southern League Premier Central, before the season was suspended when the second lockdown was put in place on the 5th of November.

“From our point of view, we are in a different league position to the other Suffolk clubs at Step 3 and Step 4,” explained Crisp.

“If it happened that it was decided to split the divisions in two, then we would have not so much to lose as most other clubs.

“It’s just an option that has been muted. It was put forward at the recent zoom meeting.

“Obviously the top teams would not be happy, because they would see their points wiped out. But it’s just an idea that was put out there.

“Nothing has been decided, obviously. It’s just speculation, but there’s no point in having another season without relegation or promotion.

“Another option might be to look at the fixtures that have already taken place, and then try and make sure everyone play each other once, so that 50% of the competition is completed.

“If the league does manage to restart by January 9, or before, then it would be possible to complete the season.

“But any later and you would be looking at 30-odd games having to be played in too short a period, in which case playing half-a-season would seem a possibility.

“Teams at the top would claim this to be unfair, to start the season again, but we are living in unprecedented times.

“The division would be split into two halves of 11, so two mini-leagues, with each team playing each other twice for 20 games in total, with play-offs at the end,” added Crisp.

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The 2019/20 season ended with the season scrapped and no teams winning promotion or relegation, unlike those in Leagues One and Two who saw their standings based on points-per-game to determine who went up and down and then played on with the playoffs.

AFC Sudbury manager, Mark Morsley, also suggested that the (Isthmian League) season could be completed by splitting the divisions in half and playing home-and-away among the smaller group of teams, although he admits that the more likely scenario is for the season to be shut down for good.

“There are bigger worries to be concerned about than just promotion and relegation this season,” explained Morsley.

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“To be honest, I think the country might go into another lockdown, immediately after Christmas, and I think that’s what should happen.

“If that were the case, then football would be finished for the season, at our level.

“At the moment, there is another review (of the tiers) planned for December 30, but I believe its best to shut everything down.

“Alternatively, if we did get back to playing, there is an idea that we should start the season again, from scratch, by splitting the divisions into two, and the teams from each pot playing each other home and away.

“The play-offs would be ditched, with just one up and one down from each pot. That would take the pressure of trying to play all the games.

“And bearing in mind I am a manager of a club currently sitting in second spot in the table!

“However, I think there is a big chance that there won’t be any more football at our level this season, especially if this different strain of Covid continues to spread.

“I have shut down our club for the time being, because I think its now too much of a risk to have players meeting up for training and playing games, with this new virulent strain of the virus.

“And I can’t see the league starting again,” confirmed Morsley.

Now that you have heard one particular non league manager wants to split divisions into two halves to finish the season, do you agree with his suggestion or is it ridiculous? Let us know!

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