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FA update on Steps 3-6 of the NLS

24th February, 2021

The FA's Alliance and Leagues Committees have proposed that the 2020/21 season of Steps 3 to 6 of the National League System - including the Toolstation NCEL - be curtailed, subject to ratification by The FA Council.

That means that, unlike the 2019/20 season that was declared null and void, the results from the 2020/21 campaign will remain on-the-record with the table when the last league matches were played at the end of December being its final standings.

A statement was released this evening by the FA as follows:

The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees have now considered the large amount of data and information submitted by clubs across the National League System (NLS) Steps 3-6 as part of a survey to gather views on the continuation or conclusion of the 2020-21 league season, in addition to the information set out in the Government’s roadmap this week.

Submissions were made by 99.1% of clubs at Steps 3 and 4, and 95.8% of clubs at Steps 5 and 6. We would like to thank the clubs for submitting their views and the time taken in providing responses during what we appreciate is an incredibly challenging period for everyone.

The results of the survey showed that over 76% of all clubs across Steps 3-6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020-21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before 1 April 2021.

During this process, taking into account views of clubs and leagues it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option. This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements which had resulted in there being 81% of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75% at Steps 5 and 6.

Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of Covid-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, The FA’s Alliance and Leagues Committees have reached a consensus that subject to the approval of FA Council, the 2020-21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the NLS should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season.

The Committees will now present their collective recommendations to The FA Council for ratification.

It has also been decided that subject to FA Council’s decision regarding the curtailment of the season at Steps 3 to 6, both committees will revisit discussions around a potential restructure at Steps 4-6 of the NLS, which was previously agreed and has been on hold since the 2019-20 season. A further update on this will be provided in due course.


As a result of the announcement, the NCEL Management Board will be holding an extra meeting this Friday evening (26th) to discuss the implications of the curtailment of the 2020/21 Toolstation NCEL season and what happens next.

This will include discussions about the feasibility of holding a League Cup competition or similar in the coming months, subject to crowds being allowed in.

(Story Source: The FA)

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