Last night it was the decision of steps 5 and 6 of the English national football tier to succumb to the COVID-19 pandemic and have their season folded. These leagues, such as the Combined Counties League Premier Division and South West Peninsula League Premier Division, exist four levels below the EFL structure so little need to panic although that might be a step closer according to the Mail Online.
However, that threat, that sense of panic, might have taken a step closer with the news from earlier that the National League “are expected to scrap their current season” due to the lack of football and subsequent lack of income streams coming into clubs. With football on hiatus, non-league clubs are particularly vulnerable due to their reliance on match day income.
BREAKING: The National League have asked The FA for assistance in postponing all remaining fixtures and to end the season as soon as possible.
Statement issued to clubs 👇 pic.twitter.com/YrsvRvzkSj
— The Non-League Paper (@NonLeaguePaper) March 25, 2020
This move, should it mean that the National League set-up have their wish granted, would see English football’s fifth tier simply halt their 2019/20 campaign as is. It would also lead to, says the Mail Online, a “knock-on effect” for the EFL who “could be forced to call off relegation from League Two.”
This decision would put precedents on the very doorstep of the EFL, with many of the clubs in League Two likely to be feeling the potential financial pinch of an extended suspension of football due to the spread of Coronavirus. The EFL as a whole doesn’t enjoy the same level of financial insulation as does the Premier League who are buoyed with the £multi-billion Sky Sports TV deal.
There are proponents out there who are vocal in their claims that the Premier League and EFL should simply hold their hands up, fold down their current leagues and look at ways to sort out the promotion/relegation issues facing the sides under their control.
With the dominoes around them continuing to get themselves ready to fall, the question is – how long before the top four tiers of English football have to start thinking along similar lines?