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News Archive > Sport > Sacrifice This Year For Next, Says Boss

Sacrifice This Year For Next, Says Boss

By Tom Howe 15th January 2021

Sacrifice This Year For Next, Says Boss
Mark Smith says that the 2020-21 season is ‘heading towards’ null and void due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic

St Austell supremo Mark Smith has resigned himself to the 2020-21 South West Peninsula League Premier West campaign being declared null and void.

Currently, under national lockdown restrictions, all football has been suspended and despite the Government’s first review of current rules coming on February 15, coronavirus cases are still rising meaning it is unlikely that any change will be forthcoming around that time. A more realistic estimate is that alterations may take place in early March, but sporting activities resuming will depend on the tiered system with many football clubs reluctant to play in anything other than tier one, which means clubhouses can open fully.

Smith, speaking exclusively to the Voice, also feels that his side could complete their scheduled games if the unlikely mid-February resumption did in fact become reality, but other clubs with a huge fixture backlog, such as St Blazey, would struggle.

“It looks like we are heading towards a null and void season from a league point of view,” he said. “For us, we have 15 played league games and feasibly, we could complete the rest of our fixtures if the league resumes in the middle of February when the first Government review takes place.

“But firstly, it is pretty clear that things won’t change in mid-February as first promised. I think any possible opportunity for the tier system to resume, which would enable us to start playing again, would come at the beginning of March at the earliest.

“So even then, we would struggle to get our remaining games in but St Blazey, who have only played eight games, haven’t got a hope in hell of completing their season - even if we can continue until the end of May.”

Further weight has been thrown behind null and void because any other alternative method for defining final league positions, like points-per-game, aren’t feasible according to Smith.

And looking forward, the Poltair Park chief says that every effort has to be made to ensure the 2021-22 season can be completed in its entirety. He added: “The whole points-per-game scenario perhaps had grounds last year, with around 70 per cent of the season completed, but surely you can’t feasibly do that now?

“There isn’t a lot of point resuming, then going back on a points-per-game system and there is also talk of rolling this season into next. We certainly can’t roll this season back into last because that was declared officially null and void.

“Overall, I would be in the boat that would like a full season next season and if that means sacrificing the league this year, then that has to be the best thing to do.

With the Government stepping up its plans to vaccinate the most vulnerable members of our society, light is very much at the end of the covid-19 tunnel meaning that the strict measures put in place to curb the spread, may be over by the spring.

This could leave weeks towards the back end of the football season, which has been extended to May 31, empty if league competition is canned. One possible way to fill the void could be to resurrect the Walter C Parsons League Cup competition in an altered format and Smith said he would back that particular concept, if that was what the league board decided.

“I would love (the League Cup) idea and if it was regionalised, it would be even better because you could make a lot of local derbies,” Smith enthused. “I’m pretty sure that I speak for all my lads, a lot of other managers and clubs when I say that they would happily play two or three times a week to get in a double round of fixtures if there was four (teams) in a group for example.

“The top two teams could go through to the knock-outs of the League Cup, while the bottom two could contest something like the Charity Cup.

“That would give everyone an even crack at games although as I said, I’m pretty sure our lads will be up for anything really. Any kind of competitive football, even if It’s not what we expected when the season began, sounds like a good idea to me.”

By Tom Howe 15th January 2021

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