East Cornwall rivals vote to null and void league season

East Cornwall rivals vote to null and void league season

East Cornwall rivals vote to null and void league season

St Newlyn East boss Martin Grigg believes it would be ‘unrealistic’ and ‘difficult’ for the current East Cornwall Premier League season to resume

3rd March 2021

By Tom Howe

St Newlyn East manager Martin Grigg has told the Voice it would be ‘unrealistic’ for the 2020-21 East Cornwall Premier League (ECPL) season to restart.

Following last week’s update on lockdown restrictions, the ECPL distributed a survey to gauge club’s views on how the campaign should be concluded. As things stand, Newlyn East sit sixth in the standings with a return of 14 points from their first nine games back at this level following promotion from the Duchy League.

However, having played so few fixtures due to covid-restrictions and the winter’s inclement weather conditions, Grigg’s charges would be required to squeeze 21 games into a three-month spell. This follows the Football Association’s decision to extend the campaign until the end of June to provide additional flexibility for leagues to complete their seasons should they wish to do so.

Facing the prospect of two games a week, with work commitments, the new cricket season and, more importantly, a duty of care to everyone involved thrown into the mix, Grigg explained it was ‘difficult’ to even consider a resumption of the game at this time.

“While we obviously appreciate the desire of all the players who want to get back playing, we felt as a club it was unrealistic for the league season to resume at this stage,” Grigg told the Voice.

“We would have 21 games to play in nine weeks. We would be playing two games a week for the next three months plus we must bear in mind we have cricket starting on our pitch in early April, so our ground is going to be unavailable every other Saturday.

“We also have volunteers that would have to put games on and are all in their 50s, myself included. Ultimately, it is down to keeping everybody safe. Whilst people are still dying from this pandemic, it is very difficult to even think about resuming football at this stage until the vaccination is all complete.

“If the league came back and said they are going to resume, we obviously have to support that and resume playing football.

“If they came back and said they are going to organise regionalised cup competitions then we would support that and go with what the league decides to do. I appreciate players from all clubs want to get back playing but, in some cases, those players just turn up on a Saturday, play football and that is it.

“There is a lot more that goes on when putting a game on in this current climate. If I was a player and not had any other responsibilities in running a club, I would be itching to get back onto the pitch. The season has been so stop-start. We have had two lockdowns and it has been so frustrating. Since we opened our new changing rooms, we have not been able to use them properly. We have only had six at a time in them since back in September.”

After the deadline had passed, confirmation that the ECPL campaign was declared null and void arrived via social media on Monday evening, with an official statement reading: “After considering the feedback from the clubs, the management committee agreed this evening to null and void the season.”

“The clubs I have spoken to were in favour of the season not resuming as a league campaign,” continued Grigg, whose side haven’t played Newquay reserves, St Blazey, St Cleer, Looe Town or Plymouth Marjon at all yet.

“I think it just the number of games we would have to play after having two months’ lay-off. Players coming back to two games a week and working as well? It would just be a nightmare.

“As somebody who has had covid – I was asymptomatic when I had it – it is crazy that we could have people coming that might have covid but not realise they have and pass it on. We have got teams coming from Devon or wherever to our village. It is very foolhardy to think that things are okay for football to resume.

“We have got a big responsibility at the club. We all love football and understand the benefits, mentally and physically, but there is a bigger picture that we all must look at. Once the vaccination programme has been rolled out fully, let’s get back to playing fully in August where there are no restrictions.

“We can have players in changing rooms and pubs will be open for the social aspect which is equally important at our level. Hopefully we can all get back to doing what we love best on a Saturday.”

Newlyn East’s local rivals, Newquay reserves, are currently bottom of the ECPL standings following a points deduction for fielding an ineligible player.

On their favoured outcome for the season, club secretary Steve Rich told the Voice: “Manager [Al Lenton] and I have discussed this and with him just taking over, we would like to see the season null and void so he can plan for the new season and get to know his players.”