Hopes fading for Isthmian League December restart

Sussex's Isthmian League clubs were today braced for news they will not play another Isthmian League game this year.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 8:51 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 8:54 am
Bognor and Burgess Hill are two of the Sussex clubs who have been waiting news of the Isthmian League restart

A vote by clubs across all Isthmian divisions has been held to see which are happy to restart league fixtures next week – and which think a further delay is needed.

It’s because of difficulties caused for many clubs by last week’s new announcement of Covid lockdown tiers.

Although the result of vote is not expected until later today, the signs are many Isthmian clubs are erring on the site of caution and asking for league games to stay on hold.

Placing some areas into tier three last week – including Kent, which has more than a dozen clubs in the Isthmian League – has severely hit officials’ hopes of staging fixtures again from December 12.

With tier three areas not allowed fans at sports grounds and facing travel restrictions, some feel the league would be restarting with those clubs disadvantaged.

Another issue is that even clubs in tier two – which includes all those in Sussex – are not allowed to open bars and clubhouses, which make up a big chunk of their matchday revenue. And with no revenue, they can’t pay players.

That means it looks like the league itself will not resume until the new year – and will restart only when all clubs are in the same boat: able to welcome fans and sell some food and drink.

Speaking ahead of the result of the vote, Bognor manager Jack Pearce, who also has roles on various national football bodies, said: “You’ve got to be fair to all clubs and if some are playing under different conditions, that is not fair.

“Understandably, a lot of clubs and supporters will look at it through the lens of their own club – but when you are involved in the management of a league you have to look at the bigger picture."