Reports are suggesting that the National League have voted to end the current season now, prompting speculation that Barrow and Harrogate Town could be set for league football next season.
It’s believed the National League are waiting for the FA to ratify bringing the season to an end, with Barrow currently top on 70 points. Harrogate Town are second, a sport that would usually yield a play-off place. Notts County are below them, three points adrift having played a game more and they would miss out on a chance to fight for an immediate Football League return.
With all football suspended until April 30th, tough calls are going to have to be made across the Football League, but below it seems there is a desire to finish the season now. However, if the Football League were to call the 2019/20 season null and void, that would leave League Two with 26 teams next season. It would also further exasperate the problems in League One, where there are only currently 23 teams in place.
It’s likely that the FA will want to conclude the current season, which could still result in promotion for Barrow and Harrogate, but only one relegation place to bolster the numbers in League One. It’s a complicated mess, made even tougher by the likelihood of legal action should the ‘right’ decision not be made in the eyes of many.
Ending the National League season now is certainly tough on those teams still in a play-off place, such as Notts County, Yeovil and Boreham Wood, but it does look likely to happen. It will delight Barrow manager Ian Evatt, who told press this week that he feared for his team’s chances of survival if they were not promoted this season.
It does seem increasingly likely that Barrow and Harrogate will be joining the ranks of the EFL next season, even without completing the season. Yes, it seems tough on the likes of Notts County, but there isn’t a fairer way to do it. Barrow’s place is perhaps not the contentious issue here; it’s Harrogate who are currently in a play-off place who would benefit the most.
That said, the play-off system in the National League does encompass a lot of teams and there’s a decent gap between the team in second (played 37, 66 points) and Stockport in seventh (played 39, 58 points).
This is the first problematic decision that’s going to pass across the desk of FA chiefs regarding the end of the football season, but it certainly won’t be the last.