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Chairman on FA decision

AFC Chairman Andy Saunders has spoken on the recent FA decision to end the 2019/20 season for the NCEL and fellow lower leagues.

The Football Association made the call last week to expunge all results from Step 3 of non-league and below, consequently also removing promotions and relegations, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

AFC were placed 16th in the Toolstation NCEL Premier Division with 28 points and had a place in the League Cup quarter-finals when the decision was made.

The Chairman has released the following statement on the ever-evolving situation in football.

"Who would have thought at the start of the season we would have played our last game by the middle of March due to a worldwide coronavirus pandemic? Probably none of us.

"Clubs up and down the country were looking at what we call the business end of the season with promotion and relegation battles being fought, but we are all fighting an enemy we cannot see who is taking away from us our loved ones. Once this is all over I am sure we will all know someone who has lost a relative to this dreadful disease.

"Well the FA have called time on all football from Step 3 downwards and voided the season; the National League have also decided yesterday to postpone Steps 1 and 2 for an indefinite period.

"Were the FA right in voiding the 2019/20 season? In my opinion I would have drawn a line under it on a points-per-game basis and we could still have had promotions and relegations, and the new Step 4 league and two new Step 5 leagues would have started in the 2020/21 season as planned. The only problem we may have had was promotion from Step 3 to Step 2 as the National League are still wanting to finish their season, which in my opinion is very unlikely.

"Looking forward to when we come out of this terrible situation, what will non-league football look like? Who knows. We all rely on sponsorship to keep our clubs going. Will our sponsors be in a position to sponsor us next season? Will our sponsors have a business after this pandemic? If they have, will they have the money to sponsor us? Only time will tell.

"On a personal note, here at AFC Mansfield we don't have any debts and it doesn't cost a fortune to keep the club going, so we are better placed than probably a lot of clubs. But like other clubs, we rely on the generosity of our sponsors and fans to keep the club going.

"Our 2019/20 season has been a rollercoaster of a ride but an enjoyable one. We appointed a new manager in Matt Chatfield at the start of the season, he came into the job with only two players left from the previous season and had to get a new squad of players together which isn't easy. The season kicked off with three wins from the first four games including a 7-0 win in the FA Cup away to Sleaford Town, the league form stuttered but we were still successful in the FA Cup and FA Vase. The turn of the year saw our league form turn around and we were looking for a strong end to the season before it was snatched away from us.

"Matt and his management team are now looking towards the new season in the Northern Counties East League to put together a squad which can challenge next season whenever it may start.

"It just leaves me to say a big thank-you to my fellow Directors Committee members and volunteers for the time and work they have put in during the season.

"Stay safe and I will see you all in the 2020/21 season. COME ON YOU BULLS!"


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