15 Mar 2020 in General News
By Brian Bennett
Football involving some leagues at grassroots level - including the Ebac Northern League which includes Wansbeck outfits Ashington and Bedlington Terriers - came to an abrupt halt at the end of last week due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the Football Association’s decision on Friday morning to immediately suspend matches in the Premier League and EFL leagues until April 3, individual leagues then had to make their own ruling whether to continue with the scheduled programme or call the games off. The ENL took the same stance as the FA and put out the following statement on Friday evening: “After taking all advice into account and giving the matter careful consideration, the league management committee has decided to suspend all scheduled fixtures with effect from Saturday March 14, 2020 up until Friday April 3, 2020. Although the decision itself was a difficult one, the fact a growing number of clubs were reporting players, management and officials as self-isolating, meant the effect on the health and well-being of everyone concerned was the most important consideration. The league will continue to monitor the situation and take on board both government and FA advice and will issue updates as and when it’s received while fixtures will resume as soon as it’s felt safe to do so. Tonight’s game at Willington (v Crook Town) has also been postponed.”
Ashington were due to play Thornaby at Woodhorn Lane and chairman Brian Shotton said: “We were very disappointed as a club at the decision to postpone Saturday’s match at such short notice and the way it was taken. Health and well-being for players, supporters and officials is very important but seeing other leagues above and below us still playing on Saturday, including a 3,000 crowd at South Shields - it does leave a number of questions to be asked. I would be interested to know if the FA or League have any financial contingency plans in place to help member clubs across the country and region? I would like to thank all of our sponsors, supporters and volunteers for their support and assistance so far this season. In the meantime our reserves have scheduled fixtures and would love your support. Take care and hopefully we will see you all soon.”
Bedlington Terriers were scheduled to travel to face Chester le Street and chairman Ronan Liddane said: “Of course the well-being of the nation is paramount - but I have to ask if non league clubs including ourselves will get any financial assistance from the FA or the league?"
Meanwhile Blyth Spartans away clash against Gloucester City in the Vanarama National League North was also postponed.
Pictured: A deserted football ground at Woodhorn Lane on Saturday – home of Ashington FC