An Update for Northamptonshire FA Leagues - 14 April 2020
Following The FA’s announcement that the 2019/20 grassroots football season has come to an end, Northamptonshire FA would like to provide the following update to affiliated leagues in the county.
League management committees have been asked to decide what happens to their league now conclusion is the only option. Below are a list of questions and answers for leagues to consider.
Q: What are the options available?
A: Having taken guidance we have concluded that there are two options to be considered:
1. Competitions are brought to an immediate end with results expunged (i.e. without
promotion or relegation occurring).
2. League positions and promotions and relegation are resolved by a points per
Q: What if Leagues want to use an alternative option?
A: We are advising against any other options being used. Having considered alternatives, it is felt that these two options are the best for the circumstances we find ourselves in. Looking at a season extension was not deemed feasible as we have no date of when grassroots football can re-commence. We would ask that leagues seriously consider expunging results in line with NLS and women’s pyramid to support consistency across the game. However, we strongly recommend balancing this with your ability to place teams into the right league based on their capability, especially when it comes to youth football.
Q: How can the points per game calculation be used when it is not in the League rules?
A: SOR/Y Rule 6(D)”The Management committee shall have powers to apply, act upon and enforce these Rules and shall also have jurisdiction over all matters affecting the competition” given the League the authority to apply Rules and anything else (not covered in the rules that impacts the League i.e. a Pandemic). This would then permit the
League to add points per game as a determining factor. It will only be permitted for this season under the unique circumstances we are in and it must be stressed that this would not be applicable under normal circumstances.
Q: Can FA Full Time do the points per game calculation?
A: This is not currently available, but work is taking place to include this calculation. In the meantime, the League tables can be exported from FA Full Time into an excel spreadsheet to work out the calculation using a formula to divide the number of points against the number of fixtures for that team. An example template is attached.
Q: What if the positions are tied when using the points per game calculation?
A: Some tiebreaker options exist (e.g. Goal Difference for Adult leagues) unless you wish to have the position tied.
Q: If a Competition is brought to an immediate end with results expunged (i.e. without promotion or relegation occurring) can teams still move up/down divisions next season?
A: Yes they can and this is where Rule 2 (L) comes in very handy “At the AGM or a SGM called for the purpose, a majority of the delegates present shall have power to decide or adjust the constitution of the divisions at their discretion. When necessary this Rule shall take precedence over Rule 22. This is where a discussion can take place at a future SGM/AGM so teams can be aligned to divisions based on the current season as the normal promotion and relegation could not be applied.
Q: If a Competition is brought to an immediate end with results expunged (i.e. without promotion or relegation occurring), does that also mean that the Championship cannot be awarded? (i.e. Can Leagues announce or award titles?)
A: If a Competition is brought to an immediate end with results expunged (i.e. without promotion or relegation occurring) then there are no winners and thus no medals/trophies
can be awarded. Moving teams to the appropriate divisions for next season can occur under Rule 2 (L) at the AGM and this is very important in youth football. It is important that teams don’t stay in divisions next season where they are well above or below their abilities.
Q: How does this affect League Cups?
A: There is greater flexibility around cup competitions, with options including simply cancelling the Competition, trophy sharing (if finalists already determined), or delaying of finals to “a season opener” for the 20/21 season. The choice to award any mementos is by the League itself through Rule 13 (B)”At the close of each Competition awards may/shall be made to the winners and runners-up if the funds of the Competition permit.”
Q: If we can delay Cup Finals to pre-season, then why can’t we defer promotion and relegation to pre-season?
A: A Cup Final is a one-off fixture and having promotion or relegation decided in pre-season would have knock-on effects to fixture planning, especially if pitch sharing, and giving uncertainty to teams and players on which division they would be playing in for that season.
Q: Should the League call an SGM to allow member clubs to vote on the two options available?
A: The benefit of calling a SGM is that brings the member clubs together (virtually in this situation) and involves them in any decision making. SCOR/Y Rule 6 (D) does say “The Management Committee shall have powers to apply, act upon and enforce these Rules and shall also have jurisdiction over all matters affecting the Competition.” So a SGM is not needed but is strongly advised by Northamptonshire CFA.
Q: How should we conduct a SGM in these unique times?
A: When a League calls a SGM they must give clubs at least 7 days’ notice, see league rules. It would be advisable for the League and Northamptonshire County FA to talk though the SGM agenda before sending it out to member clubs.
Two possible options are:
Option 1: Virtual meeting
It is advisable that Leagues have an SGM, using technology such as Video Conference/WebEx/ Teams. The Sanctioning Body (Northamptonshire County FA) may want to support and help with this, as they have the experience of using this software, so issues can be discussed, and clubs kept informed. Remember the Government advice is that people should avoid social contact and gatherings, therefore the only option to hold an SGM is via some form of technology solution. It may be that Leagues also use an online voting system or adopts option 2 along with this option as well.
Option 2: Email vote
In the current circumstances and with the agreement of the Sanctioning Body (Northamptonshire County FA), Rule 6 (L) states ”The business of the Competition as determined by the Management Committee may be transacted by electronic mail or facsimile.” This can be used by the League Management Committee to obtain a simple vote on the options by email. This would be simpler and easier but may need independent oversight of votes. Checks would need to be in place that people did not vote twice etc - this could also be done by the Club by Email to the Club Secretary privately and will also act as a verification of the votes even if they choose a Virtual Meeting. However, if they use Video Conference /WebEx /Teams, voting can still be done.
See this link to guidance on how to run meetings virtually:
In practical terms the League Management Committee may wish to put proposals or options to the Clubs and circulate these with the agenda papers. This will provide structure to the meeting, especially if virtual. It will be difficult to have meaningful discussions in virtual meetings, so consideration of how the virtual meeting will be held and how people will raise questions must be taken. It would be advisable to send out details of how to access the virtual meeting (software to be used and how to access etc) along with how to raise a question/point – for example it could be using the “chat” function on the software or by raising a virtual hand etc.
Q: Will Northamptonshire FA provide help with the technology to hold any SGM?
A: We can show how to set up a Video Conference/WebEx/Teams call for the purposes of an AGM/SGM or simply for League meetings, plus how to vote on motions etc.
Q: What should be on the SGM Agenda?
A: A recommended SGM Agenda would include:
A. Roll Call
B. Discussion and vote the options for the current season:
1. Competitions are brought to an immediate end with results expunged (i.e. without promotion or relegation occurring).
2. League positions and promotions and relegation are resolved by a points
per game calculation.
C. Discussion and vote on the status of League Cups:
1. Cancelling the Competition.
2. Trophy sharing.
3. Season opener (20/21 season).
Q: What about League AGM dates and League rule changes?
A: Each League will have a date set in their rules (Rule 8A) around the date of when the AGM must be held by and it is advised that the Sanctioning Body (Northamptonshire County FA) works with the Leagues around this and has flexibility if needed. The option for virtual League AGMs can still apply. Each League sets the date for Clubs to submit rule changes (Rule 14) and it might be that it is covered in the SGM for Leagues to change this date.
Q: Can clubs appeal the League decision?
A: If the decision is made at an SGM, then this could only be appealed if the SGM was not constitutional. We strongly recommend that the Sanctioning Body (Northamptonshire County FA) work with and support the Leagues around holding an SGM.
Q: If the League Management Committee makes a decision without going to an SGM, will clubs still be allowed to appeal this decision? Or as it is FA guidance will this cover them, and us, from potentially appeal after appeal? Similarly, if they chose to go down another route in concluding the season, I am guessing this would leave them more open to losing any appeal.
A: If the decision is made at an SGM, then this could only be appealed if the SGM was not constitutional. We strongly recommend that the Sanctioning Body (County FA) work with and support the Leagues around holding an SGM. If the decision is not made at an SGM then clubs could appeal the decision but would have to demonstrate how it was made and merited one of the following criteria:
(1) failed to give the appellant a fair hearing; and/or
(2) misinterpreted or failed to comply with the Rules of The Association or regulations relevant to its decision; and/or
(3) came to a decision to which no reasonable such body could have come; and/or
(4) imposed a penalty, award, order or sanction that was excessive.
For guidance on FA grassroots technology, visit the Knowledge Hub below.
FREE WEBINAR – CLOSING THE SEASON
The FA will soon be running an online guide to closing down your season using Full-Time functionality including displaying Points per Game and Mass Voiding fixtures, as well as top tips for running online AGM/SGMs.
Date: 29th April
Time: 2pm or 7pm