Buxton boss Hayward 'disappointed' by calls to declare Northern Premier League null and void, but accepts reasons

Gary Hayward. Photo: Rachel AtkinsGary Hayward. Photo: Rachel Atkins
Gary Hayward. Photo: Rachel Atkins
Buxton manager Gary Hayward admits he feels 'disappointed' that the Northern Premier League season looks likely to be declared null and void, but accepts the reasons.

The Trident Leagues - who control steps three and four of the National League System - have released a joint statement calling for the 2020-21 season to be cancelled.

Action in the NPL, Southern League and Isthmian League is currently postponed due to lockdown three, and with the season set to finish in May they are running out of time to complete the schedules.

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"I'm a bit disappointed that it seems it will go that way," Hayward told The Advertiser.

"The thing is, there's all different talk about second leagues (running smaller divisions). But I just can't see any more football being played now for us really."

At present the Bucks sit third in the NPL Premier, with games in hand on the top two having played just eight times.

But with 42 scheduled matches for each team and only leaders Mickleover into double figures for league matches completed, Hayward says settling the season on points per game would be implausible.

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"You can't do it on points per game," added the Bucks boss, whose side haven't played a league fixture since November 3.

"It's bad luck looking at where we were at the time.

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"We had a run of games coming up and were looking to kick on, that's the disappointing thing about it.

"It is what it is, you've just got to get sorted and look now towards next season."

The Trident League statement put forward its concerns for completing the campaign in a Covid-hit season which has been interrupted by two lockdowns and postponements when fans were not allowed to attend due to tier three and four status.

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It read: "The board of the Northern Premier League has, together with our fellow Trident Leagues, reviewed the implications of the latest Government lockdown.

"The matter was also discussed at length by the FA’s Alliance Committee earlier this week.

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"In order to reach a decision that will apply across steps three and four in the National League System, and which is informed by the views of all clubs at steps three and four, clubs will shortly be asked by the Football Association to provide their views on whether the 2020-21 season should be terminated and, if not, what the alternative should be.

"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.

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"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 Northern Premier League is postponing all fixtures up to and including Saturday, March 6, since there is no suggestion that the national lockdown will be lifted prior to this date.

"The League will continue to provide its member clubs with updates as and when it is able to do so."

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Having experienced Covid-19 first hand, Hayward knows the importance of keeping the players, fans and staff safe.

He continued: "It's getting worse out there.

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"I tell you what, it's not a nice thing to have. A lot of people are saying its this and that. I didn't know where I was.

"I'm still; getting over it now and it'll take another couple of months to get it right."

If the campaign is declared null and void that will be two consecutive NPL seasons wiped out, causing problems for the FA who are desperate to restructure their non-league pyramid, using promotions and relegations.

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