There will be no matches for York City or other clubs in the National League North today. The division has been suspended until at least 6th February.
It means that the clubs first fixture at the Community Stadium may be on 13th February against Farsley.
The Club have issued a brief statement.
However, there is a growing likelihood that the season will be abandoned altogether, with must clubs in the league very unhappy about the government’s decision not to underwrite the additional costs of playing games behind closed doors.
Grants were made to cover costs during the autumn period. The expectation at that time was that the virus would be under control by Christmas. For a time small crowds were allowed back into some grounds.
However soaring COVID-19 cases led to a further lockdown, with fans having to watch games via streaming services.
Most clubs at National North level exist on modest budgets and depend on the services of part time players. Most players have other jobs (York is a full-time outfit).
The government offered loans to clubs to cover lost revenue. Most indicated that they could not legally continue trading at a loss, which would have been one of the consequences of the loan idea.
Last week 12 clubs wrote to the National League saying that the season should be abandoned if the government did not change its approach.
One club chairman pointed out that if the season were halted – and players and staff put on furlough – then this would cost the government more than extending the grant system until grounds were able to reopen.
Money is not the only issue.
Some clubs are having difficulty accessing COVID testing facilities. That is something that the government could and should fix quickly.
Another club Chief Executive said,
“With the fact that there is no testing paid for, unlike higher in the pyramid, it was not fair to put players, staff & their families at risk.
Although a separate issue to the club funding it was equally important to get that resolved if by some miracle the season does continue.
Some players have pregnant wives, live with older parents etc… Putting them & their loved ones at risk. Plus of course interaction in players workplaces again adding to the chance of infection”.
While there may be some element of brinkmanship from the clubs as they seek to get the best deal possible, the government should recognise that it is their decisions that have caused the problem.
They should quickly agree to continue the grants system agreed last summer.
Ironically, if National League football is halted, then the first competitive game to be played at the new Community Stadium may feature the York Knights Rugby team! They are hoping to start their fixtures on 21st March 2021.
Here are some events planned for the next few months
A resident has written to us about rowdy behaviour in the City Centre this weekend.
Its an issue that has grown in recent years and one that will tarnish the City’s image unless addressed by the authorities.
Firm action is now required.
Next Saturday seeks a local derby football match in the City. That may put additional pressures on policing resources.
The timing of the match doesn’t look to be particularly enlightened.
The Council have now appointed a contractor to build a “Pavilion, Clubhouse and Changing Rooms” on Tadcaster Road near Sim Balk Lane.
It will become the home of a football team currently based in Bishopthorpe.
The contract was won by Fullwood of Pontefract
The cost is an eye watering £605,000.
In total the project is expected to cost £1.5 million. £491,000 has already been spent on new pitches.
This compared to the costs of new modular changing rooms which are available from less than £40,000 from a number of companies.
The cost of the pavilion is controversial because it is being partly funded from monies generated by building on playing fields at Lowfield.
More modest changing facilities would have allowed the surplus to be used to provide an all-weather games area to replace both the facilities lost at Lowfields and also the Kingsway West children’s games area which the Council demolished earlier in the summer.
The Council has still not made any public announcement about the replacement games area which could be located on Thanet Road.
The future of the all weather games (MUGA) provision in the Kingsway part of York remains unclear. Sport England – with the backing of local Netball and Football governing bodies – is insisting that, if the present facility is removed, then a similar provision must be made nearby.
In effect, Sport England have a veto over new developments if they involve the loss of sports fields. They can insist that a development application is referred to the Secretary of Sate for a decision.
The Foxwood Residents Association has also voiced its concerns claiming that a fitness trail – planned by officials for Chesney’s Field – would not meet the informal sports/leisure needs of the 8 – 13 age group. Instead they urge that discussions take place with the Acorn Rugby Club aimed at funding improvements, and wider access, to the floodlit area that is already in place on the Thanet Road Sports area.
York Council officials are being particularly stubborn on this issue. It is putting at risk a plan to modernise the sheltered housing flats at Lincoln Court.
Some flexibility, urgency and imagination in addressing the issues now needs to be shown by both Councillors and officers at West Offices.
Sport Englands representations can be read by clicking here
The Residents Association comments can be read here
It looks like Foxwood is getting a revived football team.
A team – based at the Beagle pub on Foxwood Lane – will play their fixtures on Chesney’s Field this season. They will play in division 2 of the York league
We understand that they are always on the lookout for new players.
The Westfield Ward Committee have allocated £500 to help the team get off the ground.
The first fixture, against Rufforth, is taking place on Saturday 1st September starting at 2:00pm.