League proposes potential cup competition

Clubs were today sent a Football Association survey which asks for their views on how the current season should be concluded.

Accompanying the survey is the preferred option of the League Management Committee (LMC) following a special meeting which was held tonight.

The LMC has fully considered the document and various options put forward within it and wholeheartedly agrees with the statement made by FA Leagues Committee that a pre-condition of any resumption should be that all clubs are able to admit paying spectators to Phase 2 levels (30% of the minimum grading requirement – as per the NLS Return to Football Guidance) and be able to access secondary income streams such as bar income, which mirrors the overall view of clubs in the Ebac Northern League’s recent survey of its clubs, the results of which were passed on to the FA.
Having evaluated all the options on offer and the implications for our clubs it is the considered opinion of the LMC that in the current circumstances the only viable option is to declare the current season null and void and aim to get a full 21/22 season completed commencing in early August 2021.
Should the situation improve more quickly than is expected, the League would look to offer some competitive football in the form of a cup competition in April/May to enable clubs to recoup some of the missed income and re-engage with supporters but this wouldn’t be mandatory and would only be considered if safe to do so.


Clubs are to be asked by the FA to complete a survey as to how the current season should be concluded.

Mark Frost, the chairman of the Leagues Committee which oversees Steps 5-6 of the National League System, has sent a newsletter to leagues and clubs across England who play at our level:

“We  held  a  meeting  of  Leagues  Committee  on the  5th  January  2021  to  in  the  main, discuss the current lockdown imposed throughout the country. It is apparent to us all, that with the current restrictions in place any resumption of the NLS in a manner that provides the clubs with safety coupled with the ability to admit supporters and  to  have  secondary  spend, means  that  completing  the  2020/2021  season is  becoming  increasingly doubtful.

“We are mindful that the Clubs and yourselves need to be advised as to what our plans are to see if there is any possibility to play out this season, or alternatively to be able to advise as to how and when this season is concluded.

“To this end, we decided that as with Steps 3 and 4, we will be issuing via yourselves a survey for the clubs to complete that will give  us the information that we can consider to assist us making our recommendation to FA Council as to how we conclude the season.  To  be  clear, within the survey we are not asking the clubs to vote on  any specific decision, we are simply using the survey to gather the views of the clubs. We  are  mindful  from information  coming  back  to  us  from  yourselves  that  extending  the season into June would not be feasible. We can advise that this is also the view of the Step 3 and 4 Leagues.

“So….we will send a copy of the survey to you for your Boards to have  advance sight of   the   survey,  before   its   publication via yourselves to   the   clubs, which will be sent shortly. Once we have received the results, the Leagues Committee will meet  and  make  its decision  upon  a  recommendation  to FA   Council.   We   will   then   call   a  meeting  of  the  Step  5  &  6  Leagues  to  advise  you  as  to  our  decision.

“The county FAs will be liaising with the Regional Feeder Leagues as to how they may decide what is the best options for themselves to conclude their seasons.”

There has  been an update from the Football Association for ‘non-elite’ football in England following latest COVID-19 restrictions:

“We note the UK Government’s announcement this evening with regards to the new national COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown. As a result, the impact on ‘non elite’ football in England will include the suspension of fixtures and training across the following, with immediate effect:

•Steps three to six of the National League System (NLS) [The Ebac Northern League is at Steps 5-6.]

•Tiers three to seven of the Women’s Football Pyramid

•Regional NLS feeder leagues

•Barclays FA WSL Academy League (unless under elite status)

•FA Girls Regional Talent Clubs (unless under elite status)

•All indoor and outdoor youth and adult grassroots football, including under 18s(except organised outdoor football for disabled people which is allowed to continue)

•Vitality Women’s FA Cup (which is currently classified as ‘non-elite’ at this stage in the competition)

“It is extremely important that clubs, players, coaches, match officials, league officials, volunteers, parents, carers and facility providers adhere to the UK Government’s new national COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and we implore everyone to follow these.

“Dialogue will continue with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, leagues, competitions and County FAs and we will provide further updates for the 2020/21 Vitality Women’s FA Cup, Buildbase FA Vase and ‘non-elite’ football when relevant.

“We would like to thank the football community once again for its hard work, resilience and understanding during such an incredibly challenging period for both the game and wider society.”


The FA has contacted clubs still involved in the Buildbase FA Vase that ties due to be played on January 9 have been postponed.  In a message to clubs the FA has said:

“In light of the recent UK Government announcement regarding the updated tier restrictions which placed over 75% of the population under Tier 4 restrictions, we write to you with acknowledgment that currently all Fourth Round Proper fixtures scheduled for Saturday 9 January 2021, and the remaining outstanding Third Round Proper matches, will be unable to take place in line with the latest Government guidance. These fixtures shall therefore be postponed with a new date to be confirmed.

“We will continue working closely with the relevant parties to ensure these fixtures can be rescheduled as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Following the Government’s announcement earlier today that places most of our clubs in Tier 4, league fixtures will not be resumed until further notice.

The League Management Committee (LMC) was due to meet on Monday (January 4) to see if fixtures could start again on Saturday, January 9.  That meeting will still go ahead as planned and the committee will consider what options, if any, may be available for the rest of the season.

Earlier this month, the FA said that football in Tier 4 areas for adult participants across ‘non-elite’ football is not permitted, including all training and fixtures.  This applies to Steps 3-6 of the National League System [NLS].  The Ebac Northern League operates at Steps 5-6.

North Ferriby FC 2 Seaham Red Star 2 (North Ferriby win 7-6 on penalties) – Buildbase FA Vase third round

Cup ties can be games of fine margins.  And fine margins put paid to Red Star’s Vase campaign.  Among the fine margins was Ferriby goalkeeper Jordan Douglas who kept his team within striking distance.

As early as the 4th minute he made a crucial save.  Ferriby conceded a foul on the edge of their own box, right in the middle of the D.  Sean McRoberts hit a terrific free kick and that was matched by an equally fine save by Douglas diving down to his left.

It was to herald a first half of the teams trading attacks and counter attacks, with plenty of pace on show.  Red Star got their noses in front in the 19th minute when a Ferriby defender was judged to have climbed over the back of Luke Sullivan, conceding a hotly-disputed penalty which the No. 10 converted.

They doubled their lead on the half-hour mark after another initial quality save by Douglas.  Red Star captain Thomas Bott hit a long range shot that dipped just in front of the keeper who, for the second time, managed to push it clear for a corner diving down to his left.  It was a short-lived reprieve, with Andrew Johnson chesting the ball into the net after the ball was put into the heart of the Ferriby goalmouth from the corner.

Red Star keeper Andrew Jennison was being kept busy at the other end too.  In the 33rd minute he pulled off two back-to-back saves:  punching away a shot by Ferriby left back Laurence McKay and then tipping a follow-up shot by Ben Leyland over the bar.

A brisk and dynamic first half was brought to an end with both teams coming close:  Ferriby No. 9 Leigh Hutchinson heading a corner down and wide at the far post and then Paul Gardiner seeing a shot cleared by a Ferriby defender close to his goal line.

In the second half the match took on a completely different complexion, with Ferriby taking the game by the scruff of the neck and deservedly levelling the tie.  This was despite another “fine margin” incident:  Gardiner seemed to slip as he ran towards the Ferriby goal and deflected a Johnson shot away from the target.

In part Ferriby were helped by Seaham’s inability to hold on to the ball, ceding possession and inviting repeated Ferriby attacks, with Johnson ploughing a lone furrow up front.

For 15 minutes the Seaham defence stayed solid but Ferriby made it 1-2 in the 60th minute when a free kick from wide right sailed over everyone with No. 4 Levi Tarbotton sliding in at the far post to bundle it over the line.  It gave the home team the impetus they needed and 11 minutes later they were level.  Daniel Hawkins was judged to have pulled No. 10 Danny East back in the penalty area and referee Neil Howlett awarded the second penalty of the match.  Substitute Danny Buttle hit it low and left past Jennison and the equaliser kept the wind in Ferriby’s sails, aothough they couldn’t convert three late attacks:  a Tom Corner cross flashing across the Seaham goalmouth with Gary Bradshaw only a couple of feet from getting on the end of it; a free kick on the edge of the Red Star box hit straight at the wall and then Seaham substitute Thomas Lawson able to snuff out a quick, threatening break by Buttle.

It was then on to nerve-gangling penalties.  Each team missed one of their opening five kicks but it was David Henderson who saw his team’s 7th spot kick saved by Douglas.  He’d kept his team in it and he was the hero on the night for the hosts.

  • And finally, many thanks to North Ferriby for their hospitality, especially Mark Chestney; we were looked after royally. I’d like to wish you the best of luck in the next round but there’s only one problem:  they’re playing another one of our teams when West Auckland are the visitors to The Villagers on January 9.  West will have to be on their toes.