Published: 08:00, 27 March 2020
| Updated: 14:43, 27 March 2020
The chance to fight for silverware has been taken away from the top non-league sides but the managers are all in agreement.
Four of those involved in promotion battles in the Isthmian League and the Southern Counties East have had their say - and there isn’t a complaint among them.
An FA announcement on Thursday confirmed that all non-league football below the National League, including at grassroots level, was over and for those between steps three and six, their records for the 2019/20 season have been scrubbed out.
Folkestone Invicta boss Neil Cugley had his team fighting for promotion in the Isthmian League, Premier Division, sitting fourth when the coronavirus pandemic caused a halt in play.
”I don’t think they had any option in the end,” said the long-serving manager.
“I’m disappointed because if we had won our game in hand we would have gone second, we had a semi-final at home in the League Cup, we had a lot to look forward to, but at the end of the day there are more important matters aren’t they than football?
“We have had a great season, the players have been great, it has been enjoyable. It is a shame we can’t finish what we started but that can’t be helped. It is a shame but you move on.We will go again and get on with it and move forward, there is no point looking back is there?”
In Isthmian League South East, Ashford United were riding high, sitting second in the table, three points off the top.
But for boss Tommy Warrilow, he knows football doesn’t matter right now.
He said: “ I am gutted because the top teams still had to play each other and we were looking for promotion but I feel guilty even talking about it when there are much bigger things going on around us to worry about.
“It is scary times and we have to do what we are told and try and ride it out. The last thing on my mind, even though we are sitting second, is promotion. I am gutted, absolutely, but it doesn’t surprise me.
“We haven’t see the boys for two weeks, we were told that if it did start it wouldn’t be until the end of April and that means another five or six, so what does that mean, you get them in for a bit of training, how do you pay them? You are going round in circles.
“Any sport, at any level, it pales into significance as to what is going on right now. It is not a nice time and I am not going to be jumping up and down even though we were one of the clubs looking to be getting promoted, especially after missing out on a play-off final last year
“We have every right to be gutted and disappointed and frustrated, Don (Crosbie) and Derek (Pestridge) are obviously funding the club and other people who have put money in, is is devastating for them, but the bottom line is, it is not a subject that is important at the moment.”
In the Premier Division of the Southern Counites East there was a five-way challenge for the top two promotion places.
Chatham Town were one of them, sitting third in the table, four points from the top. The club have invested on and off the pitch but again, no complaints from the manager.
Boss Scott Lindsey said: “You could probably take the average points (to determine places) but again that is not fair because everyone hasn’t played each other and some have played more home games than others. I think it is probably the right decision, it just means that all of the effort that has been put in for the season has all kind of been for nothing, which is a sickening thing, but there is nothing we can do.
“There are a lot worse things that are going on in the real world out there. It is what it is, we just hope that we can move forward with our lives and carry on as normal very soon. I don’t know what is going to happen but it is just an unbelievable situation that we find ourselves in.
“People are losing their lives, there are families losing loved ones, it is horrendous, an awful situation, there are more important things going on at the moment and we just have to try and stay safe, try and ensure that our own families are safe and looked after and that’s it.”
There was also an exciting battle for promotion brewing in Division 1, with four promotion places up for grabs.
Sitting top of the pile are Kennington, where manager Dan Scorer is another left without anything to celebrate after an impressive campaign up until now.
He said: “I am devastated, absolutely gutted for the boys after putting in a lot of hard work this year.
“We were desperate to put ourselves up among the big boys next year but unfortunately it’s not going to happen. We were confident we could have gone on and won it.
“It is difficult, whatever decision was made wasn’t going to please everyone.
“We just have to make sure everyone’s mentality is right to go and do it again for another season. It is going to be difficult but we will give it our best shot and the boys will be desperate to get at it as soon as possible.”
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More by this authorLuke Cawdell