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AFC Sudbury manager Mark Morsley calls for Isthmian League to restart campaign with split mini season to stop 2020/21 from not finishing




Mark Morsley believes wiping out the results and re-starting this season as two mini leagues is the only way AFC Sudbury’s Pitching In Isthmian League North Division can now be completed.

The introduction of the Tier 4 restrictions to the south east, including Suffolk and Essex, to combat alarming rising levels of Covid-19, means no non-elite football can currently be played.

Before the new higher level was announced by the government, AFC Sudbury’s league officials were set to review a continued suspension that had originally begun for November’s national lockdown yesterday.

Mark Morsley (left) and his management team - Liam Aves and Ton Kinsella - decided it was not safe for AFC Sudbury’s players to keep going ahead of the Tier 4 announcementPicture: Steve Screech
Mark Morsley (left) and his management team - Liam Aves and Ton Kinsella - decided it was not safe for AFC Sudbury’s players to keep going ahead of the Tier 4 announcementPicture: Steve Screech

The Yellows, who last played competitively on November 4 in a 1-1 home draw with Heybridge Swifts, have been left in second place with 12 points from eight matches played.

But local rivals Bury Town (4th), who enjoyed a good run in the Emirates FA Cup, have played just four games, meaning they would have 34 games left to complete before mid-May’s cut-off point.

Asked if he felt the season could still be realistically played to a finish now, Sudbury boss Morsley replied: “No, not in its current format; not a chance in hell.

AFC Sudbury captain Joe Wright fires in a free kick against Heybridge Swifts in their last competitive match, on October 31, which came back off the underside of the crossbarPicture: Steve Screech (43773002)
AFC Sudbury captain Joe Wright fires in a free kick against Heybridge Swifts in their last competitive match, on October 31, which came back off the underside of the crossbarPicture: Steve Screech (43773002)

“My opinion is the Tier 4 scenario is going to continue, certainly until there is a serious reverse in cases which as a bear minimum is going to be six weeks from now.

“The league have already come out and said clubs will be given two weeks grace before a re-start date, and with that best case scenario we are looking at the end of February.

“I think the league have got two choices; be upfront and say no more football will be played – which would help the situation with contracted players staying on furlough until the end of April – or look at an alternative split format.

“I have heard it suggested they could draw teams out and have two leagues where the winner from each gets promoted without a play-off and the bottom teams get relegated. That would be fine with me and bearing in mind we are second in the league and I am suggesting starting again; that is no problem at all.

AFC Sudbury players celebrate Ben Hunter's opening goal in a 1-1 home draw with Heybridge Swift on October 31Picture: Steve Screech (43773011)
AFC Sudbury players celebrate Ben Hunter's opening goal in a 1-1 home draw with Heybridge Swift on October 31Picture: Steve Screech (43773011)

“It would solve the promotion and relegation scenario but would the league do it? I don’t think they would as historically they have chose the easy option and pulled the plug on it.”

It comes after Morsley decided to react to the rising Covid-19 cases in the area, ahead of the Tier 4 announcement on December 23, by suspending all first-team activities until a league re-start date was known. The Yellows had begun playing friendlies to keep their players sharp and club finances ticking over.

“I thought there was a risk not worth taking,” he said.

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