Exmouth Town - Covid-19 - and what next for the current season?

PUBLISHED: 12:14 25 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:15 25 March 2020

Exmouth Town players celebrate one of theb two goals the side scored in their clean sheet home success over Wellington. Picture: GERRY HUNT

Exmouth Town players celebrate one of theb two goals the side scored in their clean sheet home success over Wellington. Picture: GERRY HUNT

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An update on the ‘is the season over....or is it still on’ with regard to Exmouth Town.

Yesterday (Tuesday, March 24) the Football Association held a meeting with officials to discuss what to do with the current season. Subsequently, the Essex League - and a number of other news streams - released information that the 2019/20 season for steps five and six of the season would have their season ended forthwith and decisions regarding promotion and relegation would be determined at a later date. 
However, 24 hours on, much of that original ‘statement’ from the Essex League has now been removed.


So, what do we know.....
A meeting did take place and, certainly in terms of our local non-league football, the undoubted ‘best source’ of information is the South West Peninsula League run superbly by the very efficient football administrator that is Phil Hiscox and, as of today (Wednesday, March 25), they are carrying no such news of a shutting down in terms of the current campaign.
It may well be that what has already ‘slipped out’ proves to be what happens, but, for now, we run with the FA saying that no official decision has been made regarding the end of the season in England’s non-league football pyramid.
It seems that during the web seminar, leagues in the seventh and eighth tiers say they all want “to terminate the season immediately”.
As for the response to that, an FA spokesperson said: “We will make a further announcement at the appropriate time. We remain in regular dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders regarding next steps across both the men’s and women’s National League pyramid and grassroots football.
“No official decision has been made yet. Our primary concern is for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff and supporters during this unprecedented time.”
The Journal spoke with Town number two Andy Rawlings ahead of the FA-led meeting. He said: “Of course, we would like nothing more than to finish what we started. After all, and I bet many clubs feel this way, we began this 2019/20 season with a plan – in our case it was one that ran over a period of five years – that, if all went as we hoped, we’d end up higher in the football pyramid. So, if this season was not to be played to a finish it would effectively render all our efforts since last August as being wasted.” 
He continued: “However, we also appreciate that there is a ‘bigger picture’ and, indeed, there is no arguing the fact that some things are much more important than football.” 
He continued: “I guess this is one of those classic times when the football authorities will be ‘damned if they do and damned if they don’t’! Of course, football folk up and down the country have been debating what should happen with the season. We are all trying to get our information and second guess what decisions might be made. From my own point of view, I do think that what’s important is that whatever decision is ultimately made it is one that tapers down through the various levels of football.”
He continued: “One idea that was being floated was that we finish this season, come what may, as soon as it is safe to do so, and if the knock-on effect of that is for the 2020/21 season to then start much later than would have been the case, then so be it!” 
As for the current season and any directives given to the Town players, the Southern Road number two says: “Obviously, at this time, we are telling players to stay safe and ensure they follow all the advice we are all being given. Clearly it’s a tough time for all, but the number one priority has to be personal health and safety. Of course, if the season does kick back in, then we need to be ready - and we will be, but for now the biggest battle we all need to give all our attention to is making sure we all, and our loved ones, stay safe.” 

As for this season and the current state of play. Town have played 25 of what would have been a 40-game league season and have seven home games and eight away matches left to play. 
They are just six points and five places below table-topping Tavistock, who have played a game more, and Town still have to play the Lambs one more time. The Southern Road men also have to face two of the three teams that sit between them and Tavvy with two games to play against Bradford Town and a home meeting with Plymouth Parkway. 
The Town number two says: “Clearly, with the games that we still have to negotiate, so much could still happen and, going back to the general conundrum of what to do with the season - it’s a headache for the good people who oversee our game and I am glad I am not in their shoes.”

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