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Coronavirus Kent: Isthmian Football League and Southern Counties East seasons set to be terminated

The 2019/20 season in the lower leagues looks to be over.

But it's yet to be clarified what's happening with cup competitions, with Corinthian yet to play their FA Vase semi-final tie.

Folkestone Invicta are chasing promotion this season Picture: Andy Jones
Folkestone Invicta are chasing promotion this season Picture: Andy Jones

Teams competing in steps three to six are unlikely to play again after the leagues decided unanimously to terminate the season, something that now needs FA approval.

That will affect Kent clubs playing in the Isthmian Leagues and the two divisions of the Southern Counties East Football League.

Promotion and relegation battles are far from decided, but an Isthmian League statement have said they want the season ended, something supported by those at step five and six (SCEFL) level.

Discussions continue and places could be decided on a points per game ratio.

In the Isthmian League Premier Division, Folkestone Invicta were chasing a play-off spot and Cray Wanderers sat second in the table. Margate sit mid-table with nine to play.

Numerous teams play in the South East Division, including Ashford United and Cray Valley, who are both chasing top spot. Herne Bay are in the play-off mix. If points per game is used to decide placings then it's Cray who would finish behind leaders Hastings United.

VCD Athletic, Phoenix Sports, Sevenoaks, Hythe, Whitstable, Sittingbourne, Faversham and Ramsgate all have plenty of games left to play.

It's tough on the SCEFL teams too.

Five teams are still in with a chance to taking top spot in the Premier Division with around a quarter of the league games still to be played.

Promotion chasing Chatham Town in action against K Sports before football was put on hold Picture: Sean Aidan
Promotion chasing Chatham Town in action against K Sports before football was put on hold Picture: Sean Aidan

Beckenham Town currently lead the way, two points ahead of Corinthian, a further two points infront of Chatham Town, who were just ahead of Sheppey United.

Tunbridge Wells were facing a nightmare finish, trying to cram another 15 league games into the remainder of their season. They could still, mathematically, have challenged the leaders for the title.

The top side in SCEFL was to be automatically promoted to the Isthmian League and the runners-up, dependent on points per game, also in the chance of promotion.

Second place teams were either set for a play-off match against the bottom side of a division above or automatic promotion if their points per game was in the top four of sides in other divisions at step five level.

On points per game, Corinthian take top spot (2.23) ahead of Beckenham (2.22). Sheppey United miss out in third (2.03) ahead of Chatham Town and Tunbridge Wells, who both averaged two points a game.

There was also a hotly contested battle in Division 1, with Kennington leading the way ahead of Rusthall and Holmesdale. Rochester United, in fifth, had enough games in hand to challenge too. There were seven teams in the running for four promotion places.

The Isthmian League statement, sent to all clubs by chairman Nick Robinson said: "The Step 3 & 4 Leagues share clubs’ frustration that it is taking so long to determine whether the 2019/20 season is to end now, and if so on what basis.

"To maintain the integrity of our competitions, we ideally need to apply one solution across the whole of the National League System. However, this may not be possible.

"The Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues are unanimous in wanting to terminate the 2019-20 season immediately. The Step 5/6 Leagues also support the immediate termination of the season.

"Whether that is done on the basis of determining final placings via average points per game, or the season is declared null and void cannot be determined until the National League decides how it wishes to proceed."

The National League appear determined to resume the 2019/20 season at some point, which is also the preferred choice for the Premier League and the EFL.

The stance from the lower leagues is that they don't have the finances to honour player contracts indefinitely and can't support a prolonged wait.

Their statement continued: "The Step 3 and 4 Leagues have therefore commenced the process to terminate the season. This has to be ratified by the FA Council, so there may be a short delay as the relevant documentation is submitted, distributed and approved.

"Whilst this process is on-going, and once the National League has finalised how it wishes to proceed, competition issues can then be decided, together with the implications for promotion and relegation.

"As soon as the National League’s position is finalised, we will be able to confirm the basis on which the 2019-20 season has ended."


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