The district's clubs look set for an abandoned campaign as non-league bosses recommend ending season

By The Editor

7th Sep 2021 | Local Sport

Promotion-chasing Maldon and Tiptree FC look set for another prematurely-ended season of heartache as it appears their hopes of going up have been thwarted for a second time by Covid-19.

The Jammers, like near neighbours Heybridge Swifts, play in the Isthmian Division One North which has been without competitive league action since November and both could find their season is about to end. It certainly will not start until March if a ball is to be kicked again this season.

And the same is likely to apply to Eastern Counties First Division South Burnham Ramblers, who have played just ten matches in their league campaign.

The Isthmian League is one of the three competitions (known collectively as the Trident Leagues) that run the game at step three and four in the national pyramid system.

A statement issued yesterday (Friday, 8 January) by the Isthmian League appears to indicate that non-leagues nationally are on the brink of calling off this season.

A statement to clubs from the Isthmian League says: "The Board of the Isthmian Football League has, together with our fellow Trident Leagues (Northern Premier and Southern Leagues), have reviewed the implications of the latest government lockdown. The matter was also discussed at length by The FA's Alliance Committee earlier this week.

"In order to reach a decision that will apply across Steps 3 & 4 in the National League System, and which is informed by the views of all clubs at Steps 3 & 4, you will shortly be asked by the Football Association to provide your club's views on whether the 2020/21 season should be terminated and, if not, what the alternative should be. This will take the form of a short survey.

"Independent of that survey, all three of the Trident League's boards hold the view that the season should cease immediately and be declared null and void."

"The ultimate decision lies with The FA Council, following a proposal made by the Alliance Committee but no proposal will be drafted until clubs' views have been collated and assessed.

"In the meantime, the Isthmian Football League is postponing all fixtures up to and including Saturday, 6 March since there is no suggestion that the national lockdown will be lifted prior to said date."

Maldon, who currently sit third in the Isthmian North (Heybridge are fifth), five points behind leaders Tilbury but with three games in hand as they have played just five league matches, were denied promotion last season when the competition was abandoned.

At the time they were 14 points clear at the top of the division one north table and looked almost certain to go up with ten matches remaining.

The football authorities then decided to call the leagues null and void, rather than awarding end of season places on a format such as points per game and there were therefore no promotions or relegations – a decision that angered Maldon manager, former Colchester United, Ipswich Town and Hull City player Wayne Brown, who said: "We're extremely disappointed with the decision. We've had a really good season and to have lost only two of 26 games is no mean feat.

"We've put ourselves in a fantastic position to win the league.

"Last season, the decision was made to restructure the league and the format that they were going to use was points per game. Why haven't they done that?

"The Premier League and the EFL said that their season must be finished to protect the integrity of the competition – so does that mean that there's no integrity at our level?"


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