Penrith Football Club’s first team games have been put on ice for a further two weeks in light of the Government’s latest tier ruling.
All matches in the National League System – which includes the Northern League Division I in which Penrith play – were suspended at the start of this month ahead of a month-long lockdown.
After the Government confirmed the return of grassroots football on Monday as it spelled out plans for December 2 and beyond, it had been hoped Northern League action would kick off again from next Saturday – December 5 – although clubs have insisted all along that matches will only be played if spectators can be allowed into stadiums to watch.
A meeting was held last night between the Football Association and representatives of leagues, including Penrith’s, after it was revealed much of the North East will be placed into tier three from Wednesday, and all of Cumbria into tier two.
And in a statement this afternoon, the Northern League’s management committee (LMC) responded: “Decisions made by the Government will unfortunately see 37 of the league’s 40 clubs placed in areas covered by Tier Three restrictions which would allow football to be played at Steps 5/6 but would require them to be played behind closed doors thereby removing significant income streams for all our clubs.
“Although the FA has stressed that their key objective is to conclude the 2020/21 season and implement promotion and relegation, either through completion of the fixtures schedule or by a mathematical formula if the season is incomplete, it is the feeling of the LMC that at this stage it’s simply not financially viable to ask clubs to play without spectators being present.
“Consequently, at an emergency LMC meeting held earlier this morning, it was decided that the league would be suspended for a further two weeks, until 16th December, 2020, when the Government will be undertaking the first of its fortnightly reviews of the tier areas.
“We will also review the situation at this point.
“In the meantime the league will be carrying out a consultation exercise with its member clubs over the next week as to how we can fulfil the FA’s objectives and still comply with the Government restrictions without putting our clubs’ existence at risk.”