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Bishop's Stortford waiting to hear when Isthmian League matches will resume after Trident Leagues delays resumption following the end of second lockdown

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Bishop's Stortford's return to league action has been delayed after it was agreed to continue the pause in fixtures despite the easing of the coronavirus restrictions.

With players living in Tier 3 areas not being permitted to travel to Tier 1 or 2 to take part in non-elite football, the Trident Leagues – which incorporates the Pitching In Isthmian, Northern Premier and Southern Leagues – have decided to postpone the planned resumption of action following consultation with clubs.

The Blues, who were due to visit Haringey Borough in the first round of the Buildbase FA Trophy last night after seeing Saturday's home friendly against Biggleswade United postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, had hoped to resume their Isthmian League, Premier Division campaign at home to Merstham on Saturday December 19.

The Blues in league action against Bognor Regis Town earlier this season. Picture: Vikki Lince
The Blues in league action against Bognor Regis Town earlier this season. Picture: Vikki Lince

But the possible restart date will now be reassessed on December 16 and 30 in line with the Government's scheduled Tier reviews.

And there may need to be serious discussions on how the season can be brought to a satisfactory conclusion including promotion and relegation across the whole non-League pyramid.

In a statement, the Trident Leagues said: "If no progress is made by the Government on the Tiers in either of the two December reviews, it is the intention of the alliance committee to circulate those concerned with a survey to gather the views of the clubs as how best to finish the season.

"Options will include an alternative format competition and extending the season, possibly into June 2021.

"However, the implications of all such proposals will involve the cost of players' contracts and the ability of some clubs to continue playing because of other issues and the need to prepare grass pitches for the following season.

"The leagues are mindful of the needs of all clubs and are striving to find a solution which is fair to all."

Another factor in the decision to postpone the restart is the continued negotiations to get £14 million of government support via Sport England for clubs at steps three to six of the pyramid presented as grants rather than loans.

"The FA is working tirelessly with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Sport England to have the funding presented as grants," added the Trident statement.

"However, these negotiations take time, and it is not expected to have an answer or clarification of details of even the loans until mid-January."

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