Radcliffe chairman questions National League’s stance on FA curtailment decision

Radcliffe FC ground, Wikimedia Commons 2006

As many people expected, steps 3-6 of the non-league system in the 2020/21 season has been curtailed with immediate effect.

This decision was taken on the back of National League’s North and South divisions voting to end their campaigns, bringing an end to a turbulent season for many clubs up and down the country. 

One club who are involved in all the uncertainty is Radcliffe FC, members of the Northern Premier League’s Premier Division, who only played a total of nine games this season.

This decision has halted everything they were working towards. 

Chairman Paul Hilton has been involved with the club for many years and has been aiming for the Greater Manchester side to take a step forward.

But he believes the National League’s stance is having a real impact. 

“We’re at Step 3 ourselves and we’ve got to hold our own hopes to be involved in that promotion challenge at some point in the near future. 

“But, the problem is not just with the FA, it’s with the National League as well,” claims Paul. 

The season, as it stands, has not been declared null and void but curtailed, meaning promotion and relegation and a change up of teams in leagues is still possible. However, the decision from this is never going to please everyone. 

Journalist Ollie Bayliss breaking the news

The National League’s Premier Division is the only remaining non-league division taking place with their member clubs deciding to see it out until the end of the season.

Seven clubs in the league voted against continuing the season with finances running low and Government backing at a premium. 

Paul says: “The National League’s decision at Step 2 has automatically closed the door. 

“Every league has control over it’s own membership and that is all ratified by the FA, the National League have decided they don’t want to change the amount of teams in their divisions over the next year.

“This will ultimately have a domino effect down the leagues.” 

Another team affected in a different way due to this decision is phoenix club Bury AFC.

This was their first season in non-league after setting up in December 2019 and had a fantastic start to the season, sitting top of the North West Counties First Division North. 

Striker Tom Greaves has endured a stellar career in non-league, spending six years at FC United and even had a stint as manager.

Tom Greaves celebrating a hat-trick in 2013 for former club FC United

He joined Bury AFC in September and admits the decision taken does have an impact on his career. 

“It’s understandable but we were hoping the FA could explore options to continue some sort of football. 

“This is a little frustrating for me in my career, I’m 36 next month and it’s cutting short my last few seasons as a player,” added Tom. 

Clubs and supporters now await the news on how steps three to six of the non-league system will be resolved with a new season potentially starting in August 2021.