I don’t envy the job and positions of those in power at the Trident League, and yes, I do believe with Mark Harris at the wheel, every action taken is indeed in the best interest of member clubs. I do understand difficult decisions have to be made and whilst it may well prove ultimately the only solution, I must however question the Trident’s announcement to suggest a null and void outcome to the current season at this stage.
Of course I fully appreciate the upheaval and distress the world has gone through over the last ten months and not for one minute am I suggesting that sport should carry on regardless.
What I am suggesting though, is as a league, we wait and do not repeat mistakes made last season. Hindsight is a wonderful thing that allows educated discussions, with knowledge of past decisions and results in the hope that lessons are learnt.
Who knows where we will be as a society towards the end of February?
To assume a new season starts in August and is completed in full seems naive at this moment. What is clear is that we need to be fluid in our thinking.
I don’t have the answer, but to declare now, does this effectively cancel all players contracts, remove them from furlough and pressure clubs to make decisions on enforcing retention and re-engagement, whilst being in the knowledge there would realistically be no competitive games at step 3,4 and below played until August at the earliest?
To declare now also completely disregards the efforts of numerous volunteers, completely discounts players and leaves all clubs from steps 3-7 effectively with two wasted seasons.
How can this be allowed to happen when only yesterday evening Marine flew the flag for all non-league as they entertained Tottenham in the FA Cup?
Clubs at this stage are hibernated to a point, with minimum outgoings that would still continue if the season was to end today.
On top of this, clubs have endured high expenses already. Not discarding ground grading costs and general maintenance and whilst I agree a high percentage of kit will continue into a new season, I’m not sure that will be the case when league fees, fines and insurance are discussed.
Spare a thought for spectators. Many have supported their club’s with season ticket purchases. Will they be expected to purchase again? Will clubs be refunding or allowing options to roll over and effectively remove income from next season?
This is without mentioning sponsorship that is also vital at our level of the game. Does the Trident Committee honestly believe this will still be readily available to both the Trident and clubs if we continue to NOT produce a product relative to the value?
I fear for many clubs including my own, and I believe we are financially stable and run to a modest budget.
As we all prepared for the 20/21 season, I think everyone envisaged it would be tough and not plain sailing. Not one member was disillusioned enough to understand the season wouldn’t run its course and an understanding of alternatives was required to ensure we didn’t repeat past mistakes.
After the legal challenges of last season, unless I’m missing something, surely there was a PLAN B?
I do believe that if polled, the majority of clubs and player are still committed to completing a season in some form once the financial picture becomes clearer, whilst ensuring the integrity of the competition is maintained.
However, to poll clubs now also has its issues. You would basically be asking questions of custodians who all have a horse in the race.
Decisions made now would be based on self preservation and potentially not integrity and that is unfortunately human nature, but it is also a situation that could have been avoided through better planning.
What we do need now as member clubs is leadership. Forward thinking to find a resolution of how best to maintain integrity, whilst rewarding success.
Like I said at the start, I do not envy the position of the Trident Board, but hope they do not take the null and void option in haste, as from an outsider's view it appears the easiest route has been suggested once again.
The non-league community never looks for the easiest ‘way out’. If it did, there would be no non-league.
As our voices, I urge the Trident Committee, look for alternatives and provide the leadership their member club’s desperately need.
Ryan Haigh & Martin Davies
Chairman & Managing Director