The FA in its infinite wisdom has declared that every league below the sixth division has been voided for the 2019/20 season. In other words, there will be no promotions or relegations for teams in those divisions.
One team in particular that will feel hard done by COVID-19 is Jersey Bulls of the Combined Counties Division One, which had won 27 of its 27 league matches before the pandemic-induced break. At this point in the season, they had scored 99 goals against 7 conceded in the league on the way to securing promotion for next season before the break. By comparison, Premier League leaders Liverpool had scored 66 goals and conceded 21, winning 27 of 29 games en route to a 25 point gap between themselves and second place Manchester City. Liverpool’s dominance has been such that even City player Ilkay Gundogan has supported the idea of Liverpool being crowned champions should the rest of the season be cancelled.
Although obviously disappointed with the nullification of a record-breaking season, Bulls vice-captain Luke Campbell responded to the news by saying “At the moment football needs to take a back seat to everything that’s going on. The health and safety of everyone is paramount”. However, he did voice confusion at the difference in treatment between the leagues, saying “It’s obviously a completely different scale but it’s a bit strange seasons at step three and below are going to be null and void whereas they haven’t made a decision with regards to the Premier League or Championship. I’m not really too sure what’s going on there”.
Jersey is an island off the coast of France classified as a British Crown Dependency. Due to its complicated relationship and history with England, only recently has English soccer had a team from Jersey. Jersey Football Club was formed in 2018, with the 2019/20 season being their inaugural season. However, its geographic location meant that the team had to take a plane to travel for its matches. According to Campbell, “[Traveling] involved getting to the airport for half six or seven in the morning and flying to Gatwick usually. We normally have a bite to eat and then get the coach to the game. They were long days, but it was something we were enjoying”.
Jersey Bulls have, in conjunction with 60 other clubs, called on the FA to reconsider its decision. As of the time of this writing, the FA Council has not yet ratified the initial decision nor responded to the petition.