Mid Sussex Football League will resume straight after sport lockdown ends
Mid Sussex League bosses will restart fixtures on the first Saturday in April - saying it is their response to an 'overwhelming desire' of their clubs to return to action.
Outdoor sport is allowed to resume on Monday, March 29 - and five days later the many divisions of the MSFL will swing straight into action.
The larger top two divisions are being split into a top half and bottom half based on results so far, with teams in each half playing the others once more. And the junior divisions - one to five - will play through to a natural finish.
The restart has been speedily worked out in a series of meetings outlined by league chairman Duncan Brooker, who said: "Prior to the national lockdown in November last year the Mid Sussex Football League setup a Covid working group comprising officials from a number of our member clubs along with league officers. This has proved valuable in obtaining the views of our clubs and their players regarding how we resume following the lockdowns.
"This group met on Thursday 25 February to discuss the way forward after 29 March when grassroots football can commence. The overwhelming view was that clubs and their players would like to see the MSFL resume in some form.
"Looking at the current league tables and matches played a number of proposals were developed and these were presented at out league management meeting on Monday 1 March for ratification.
"At this meeting it was agreed that the league would resume competitive football on Saturday 3 April. For our junior divisions (Divisions 1 to 5), with no team with more than 10 matches to play, it was felt that the league programme could be completed by the end of May.
"Our intermediate divisions (Premier and Championship) present more of a challenge due to the number of matches left to be played, and the fact that we are awaiting news regarding the SCFA Intermediate Cup which a number of our clubs are involved in.
"Two options were developed and sent to the affected clubs for their views. With the feedback from the clubs in mind it has been agreed to conclude these divisions by analysing the matches played to produce revised league tables based on a “Points per Match Played” basis.
"The resulting league tables will be split into two mini-leagues comprising seven teams each based on revised league position. These two leagues will compete on a single match basis to decide the final league positions for the top and bottom halves of the respective divisions.
"The aim is to conclude all league matches across the MSFL by the end of May. However, this could be extended into June if necessary in line with the latest extensions advised by the FA.
"The final league tables will be used to address promotion and relegation issues across all divisions.
"The league constitution for a new season is always a complex issue to resolve. The only real commitment is for the division champions to be promoted, should they meet the criteria for the higher division.
"At the MSFL it has always been the intention to listen to our member clubs and players and this has been the case here.
"We believe the overwhelming desire for football to return at grass roots level at the earliest opportunity should be the priority for the league and we have addressed this. I am sure this plan will present challenges, specifically with regard to pitch availability, but we are working with the local councils to resolve this."