As expected, subject to ratification by the FA Council, Ramsbottom United’s latest quest for promotion has ultimately been proved futile due to the on-going Covid19 pandemic.
On Wednesday (24th) the announcement came via the FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees that having considered all the data and information submitted by clubs across the National League System (steps 3-6 of non-league), including the Northern Premier League and the North West Counties League will see no further matches taking place during the 2020-21 season.
With 99.1% of clubs at steps 3 and 4 (NPL, Southern and Isthmian Leagues) and 95.8% of clubs in steps 5 and 6 (Many more local leagues around the country) submitting their views, 76% of respondents indicated a preference for the curtailment of the season.
Despite original plans to extend the season until the end of May, taking into account Players contracts and other financial implications, along with the fact that at steps 3 and 4, 81% of the fixtures are still to be played, whilst the figure is 75% at steps 5 and 6, it was decided that any hopes of finishing the season were out of the question.
The added problem regarding the addition of one extra division at step 4, which was due to be taken under the wings of the NPL this season, but naturally placed on hold after the “null and void” of season 2019-20, is something else that will need to be discussed by the FA.
Whether the final piece in the non-league pyramid (Step 1 has 1 division, step 2 has 2, step 3 has 4 and step 4 currently has only 7) will come into force for the 2021-22 season has yet to be decided.
The curtailment has seen the Rams latest promotion bid thwarted after a similar situation last season.
It’s especially galling for everyone at the club, as the team’s recent results have been not only promotion form, but probably that of champions.
Of the last 26 league games played, 20 have been won, 4 drawn and just 2 resulting in defeats.
Despite the disappointment, Chairman Harry Williams was philosophical. “It’s probably for the better”, he commented, “as we can’t complete the season with Covid19 still around. It’s just not viable to continue, and the right decision has probably been made”.
A clearly frustrated Manager Chris Willcock preferred not to comment.
The club hopes that by the start of next season in August, we are allowed to complete the entire campaign without interruption and that the Rams can continue their excellent form and make another sustained effort to achieve a much-deserved promotion.