Season extension to combat backlog

Waterlogged and snow-covered pitches have caused a huge fixture backlog
Waterlogged and snow-covered pitches have caused a huge fixture backlog

THE Sussex County Football League season has been extended until the beginning of May to help clubs cope with the huge fixture backlog – although there are still fears of further problems.

The league has made the move after yet more postponements over the weekend left teams struggling to fit all of their games in before the end of the season.

The season was originally set to end on Saturday, April 27, but the Football Association has told Step 5 leagues they now must be finished by Tuesday, May 7 – although the SCFL hope to have all league games tied up by Saturday, May 4.

Only 11 games across the league’s six divisions took place on Saturday as yet another weekend suffered at the hands of the weather in one of the worst-affected seasons in league history.

Acting SCFL chairman Steve Nealgrove said: “The FA has given leagues at Step 5 an extension of one week to complete their fixtures. After more snow and rain over the weekend the decision was made to use that to help clubs complete their fixtures and ease a bit of the congestion, really.

“Tim Dawes the acting league fixtures secretary has spent the whole of the weekend rejigging fixtures so to get them in by May 4, even though officially we have until May 7.

“But the John O’Hara Cup has been put back to May 6 (Monday) on the bank holiday weekend so we want all fixtures completed by then.”

The extension means there are now seven weekends left for fixtures, but the league has warned more bad weather could cause further problems, especially for teams like Rye, Sidley and East Preston – the latter who are already set to play three games a week.

If more games are lost there is no guarantee that the FA will grant a further extension and some teams may be subject to play more than three games a week.

Nealgrove said: “We are not out of the woods yet. If we lost any more games we are not sure we would get a further extension from the FA. It would mean we would have to cram more (fixtures) in each week.

“Teams will find themselves playing three and, possibly, some may find themselves playing more as all fixtures have to be completed – we are not allowed to award points for incomplete games. We just have to keep our fingers crossed at the moment.”