The Combined Counties Football League is interested in continuing the season after the lockdown, although this may not be possible if the FA decide to cancel the current season.
The Combined Counties represent the ninth and tenth tiers of English football and have responded to a survey by the FA.
The FA has sent the survey to all non-league clubs to decide what should happen to this current season. Once these are sent back a final decision on the season will be made.
If a majority of members vote to cancel the season, it is likely that for a second consecutive year, teams’ results would be wiped and the league season declared null and void.
This would affect Chessington and Hook United, who play in the Combined Counties first division, the tenth division of English football.
Their manager, Glen Nicholls, says that although it is disappointing that they may not be able to play competitively this season, it may be the best solution in terms of safety.
He said: “It wouldn’t be ideal and would be somewhat frustrating but I wouldn’t necessarily be disappointed if it were to be cancelled again.”
Nicholls went on to suggest that it’s not football that takes priority in the coronavirus pandemic, rather the safety of everyone involved.
He said: “I think it’s more important to be safe and free from the virus so that when we do go back that it’s permanently and with no further interruptions.”
The void left by a lack of football cannot be understated though. Those that have been used to playing regularly won’t have experienced a period of inactivity like this before.
Nicholls said: “I’m certainly missing the management side of things, football has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember and to be missing out on that is as bad as not being able to see friends and family.
“In a team environment, you feel like a family or at least very close friends so the interaction with the squad and support staff is a real down aspect of lockdown.”
Chris Conlon, the chairman of the Combined Counties League, says that it would be very disappointing if they were not able to finish the season due to new proposals set out by the FA.
He said: “We will be disappointed should the season be terminated and the record expunged, which happened last year. We need to complete a season for the FA to implement their planned changes to the National League system.”
The Combined Counties premier league is a step 5 league, and the Combined Counties first division is a step 6 league, in accordance to their hierarchy in the non-league football pyramid.
Conlon went onto describe the significance of the planned restructuring by the FA: “If we manage to complete a season the FA are planning to perform a final stage of restructuring to result in an NLS pyramid of 1-2-4-8-16-17 divisions covering steps 1 to 6. As part of this restructuring, the Combined Counties League will be given an additional division to run at step 5.”
Despite the challenges set out by the pandemic, Colon is optimistic that the clubs in combined counties league are strong enough to overcome them, even if the season is cancelled.
He said: “The Combined Counties League is quite strong at present and most of our clubs are also very well run and healthy. We are concerned for some of our clubs but most, if not all, should survive these difficult times.”
With league divisions as high as the National League South reportedly heading for cancellation, it seems more and more unlikely that the Combined Counties League season will recommence, although this is yet to be confirmed.