The Lancashire & Cheshire Amateur Football League has reviewed the 2019/20 season and outlined plans for the coming campaign in its Annual General Meeting.
Held on 4th June 2020, the 111th AGM was unlike any other in the league’s long and distinguished history.
Because of the ongoing pandemic, the meeting was held via video conference and was attended by more than 60 league and team representatives.
Mike Yates, L&C Chairman, opened the meeting by highlighting the very real loss suffered by many during the Covid-19 pandemic; the famous Bill Shankly quote about football being more important than life and death was evoked by our chairman, who rightly said this isn’t the case and offered all our condolences to those who have lost love ones to the dreadful virus.
A minute’s silence was held as a mark of respect.
The meeting discussed the way in which the league season was ended; the FA’s options were to null and void the season, or decide standings on a points per game basis. The league, as we know, voted unanimously to void the 2019/2020 season completely – a decision that has received widespread support from the clubs involved in the L&C.
As discussed in the AGM, the L&C left some wiggle room so that cup competitions could be completed if it was safe to do so; initially, a deadline to salvage cup competitions was set for the end of May but given that current FA guidelines state that non-contact training is the only option at the moment, the league reluctantly agreed the cup competitions should go the same way as the league.
It is, as Mr Yates said, “a huge disappointment for everyone, particularly those clubs who put themselves into a position to win cups and medals.”
The unprecedented conclusion to the season actually clouds what was proving to be a “very difficult season” before anybody had heard of Covid-19.
We endured the wettest February in the country on record, with two major storms wreaking havoc. The onset of coronavirus exacerbated this and the cost to the league as a result has been hefty.
Those at the meeting thanked the teams for their understanding, without which “the cost would have been considerably more if the season had come to a natural conclusion.”
Plans for next season were spoke about at length during the AGM. As things stand, the L&C expect to have a net gain of teams, though a decision is yet to be made regarding the number of divisions. It is expected this will remain at seven or we will add one to make eight.
In terms of teams, definite changes include Chorltonians reducing to two teams, while Radclyffe and Village Manchester will run two teams each. Unfortunately, Denton Town have resigned from the league, but in more positive news, Salford Victoria will certainly be adding a third team, and there is scope for a fourth too.
The L&C is delighted to welcome new clubs, all of whom have received committee and member approval.
Woodhouses FC will be based at Hollinwood Sports club and should have access to two football pitches; the L&C has confirmed a ground inspection will take place in due course.
Elsewhere, Shaw Athletic will bring one open age team to the league and are hoping to develop junior teams in the future. Similar to Woodhouses, a ground inspection will be required for Shaw, who have a prospective pitch that Oldham Council has ratified. Training will take place at Royton and Crompton Schools.
We welcome Hattersley into the L&C; the club already have two Sunday league teams but want to start one for Saturday. The team will be coached by Gareth Howell, who is applying for a UEFA B coaching place and has been managing teams for more than a decade.
Stretford Paddock have committed to bringing one team into the league. Chairman and manager Stephen Howson is a well-known personality, with a podcast that has seen many Manchester United legends interviewed. They have a squad of 40-50 players to choose from and have a verbal agreement with Dean Trust, Ardwick, to play their games there.
It was a straightforward choice for the panel to approve the membership of Salford Albion, whose committee have had dealings with the league previously.
Kartel Sports will join the league next season, having competed in the Altrincham & District League since being established in 1991, and are in negotiations with Timperley’s Manor Farm to base their competitive games on those excellent pitches. Training during the winter months will take place at Soccerdome.
Finally, Sale Amateurs will take part in the L&C. The team have already started training in accordance with FA guidelines and have a strong bond, having played together for three years. The players have committed to continuing their journey in the L&C and will play home games at Mersey Valley FC in Sale.
Before the meeting ended, plans for the forthcoming season were outlined. The earliest that the campaign can get underway is Saturday 22 August. However, it has been stressed that the structure of the season or possible start date is not yet known and is subject to change.
Registrations are now open, but we have recommended not sending these to the league for approval until after the first week of July as a precaution, in the event of any problems arising with the switch to the new season.