Regional Soccer Players Hang up Boots as English Leagues are Canceled

Simeon Jackson. Photo: SkySports

English National League South and North—divisions featuring a number of Bermudians and players with Caribbean roots—have been declared null and void and this season’s remaining fixtures in the sixth tier of the English football pyramid have been scrapped because of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The North division includes Bermudians Dale Eve, Spennymoor Town’s goalkeeper, and Knory Scott and Keziah Martin of Kidderminster Harriers, while the South division includes Billericay Town’s St Kitts and Nevis forward Rowan Liburd,  Dominic Poleon, a 27-year-old forward of St Lucian descent, who plays for Ebbsfleet United, and Simeon Jackson, a 33-year-old Kingston, Jamaica-born forward with Chelmsford City.

Liburd, 28, who rejoined Billericay in January for a second spell with the club, said on his social media site: “(I’m) gutted the season ended like that.”

In the fifth tier, the National League campaign will continue, despite seven out of 23 clubs voting to end the season. 

Two clubs have yet to cast their votes, but the final result cannot be altered, with the 51 percent majority already reached.

The National League board will now take the decision to the Football Association for ratification, where the issue of relegation from the fifth tier and promotion to the Football League will also be discussed.

Despite 12 of the 21 National League South clubs voting to continue the season, there were fewer takers in the North, where only seven of the 22 wanted to play on. 

The decision was then taken to scrap the campaign with immediate effect.

The continuation of the season had been in grave doubt since the turn of the year after a dispute over funding to the league’s clubs.

The row escalated at the end of last month after the National League’s £10 million (US$14 million) share of the British government’s winter survival package reached its three-month expiry, with clubs given the choice of accessing individual loans, sharing a central loan or suspending the campaign altogether.

The decision to make any future funding in the form of loans rather than grants angered many clubs across the National League’s three divisions, leaving the continuation of the North and South divisions, in particular, uncertain.

Only a handful of clubs had been able to let supporters into their grounds at any point during the season and, after the surge in coronavirus cases, all games have been without crowds.

There are three Bermudians playing in the National League—Justin Donawa’s Solihull Moors, Milan Butterfield’s Chesterfield and Jonté Smith’s Woking—while others in the fifth tier include 21-year-old Guyana international Liam Gordon at Dagenham & Redbridge.

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