Exmouth Town latest - assistant manager speaks on ‘disappointment’ of league season record being ‘expunged’

PUBLISHED: 10:19 31 March 2020

Exmouth Town players celebrate one of theb two goals the side scored in their clean sheet home success over Wellington. Picture: GERRY HUNT

Exmouth Town players celebrate one of theb two goals the side scored in their clean sheet home success over Wellington. Picture: GERRY HUNT

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The news that the 2019/20 season is officially over in terms of grassroots football and all results for the unfinished campaign are to be expunged from the records has not been universally welcomed.

The news that the 2019/20 season is officially over in terms of grassroots football and all results for the unfinished campaign are to be expunged from the records has not been universally welcomed.

Exmouth Town assistant manager Andy Rawlings had said, in the days before the Football Association announced the premature end of all grassroots football, that the Southern Road club hoped that would not be the case.

The Town number two reiterated his original words when he said: “Now it’s official we are certainly amongst those clubs who are up in arms about the decision. Look, of course, there are bigger issues at play here than simply finishing a football season and I certainly recognise that, but I feel for our chairman and the other good folk who hold the purse strings at the club because this decision really does make life very difficult for lots of clubs.”

He continued: “It really does beat me why we could not wait to see what happens at the very top of the football pyramid and then, if and when the Premier League was to turn round and say ‘that’s it, down tools and call it a day’, then I don’t think anyone would have argued against that. What we now have is a season that apparently didn’t happen and doesn’t matter.

“Well, the likes of our club and, I don’t doubt, clubs like Plymouth Parkway, Bradford Town and Tavistock, feel they have been cheated out of some form of progress.

“As I have said previously, we began the 2019/20 campaign on what we all considered to be the start of a five-year plan to get where we ultimately hoped to be, and so have had the first year effectively ‘written off’ at a time when we were still very much in the chase for a coveted promotion berth.

“We still had 17 games to play and that represented a great deal of income generation. That was going to be income that would support us with plans to move forward again next season.”

The Town number two did have an alternative to the decision that has been made. He explained, saying: “What was to stop us being put on hold – in the same way that the Premier League are currently sitting it out. Then, let’s say this lockdown stays with us for four or five months, given that most teams still have half a campaign to play, surely we could have picked it all up again in October and play the campaign to a finish.

“However, what they have done by ‘writing off’ this season is put us all into serious limbo. I mean, what if we cannot resume until October – what happens to next season? This could change the landscape of football for a long time, if not forever.”

He continued: “We are more fortunate than a lot of clubs in as much as we have a fabulous set of people overseeing our finances and we have a supporters’ group that is, quite frankly, second to none. That said, this Corona-19 crisis is looking as if it is going to be here for the long haul. I think many of us thought ‘oh yes, a couple of weeks of pain and it will all go away’, but that is clearly not going to be the case.”

As for the future, the Town number two says: “The longer this goes on the more clubs will be pushed towards the abyss and it may well be that when we do eventually get back under way – and we will – that the landscape of football as we knew it before Covid-19 will be changed. Perhaps the budgets will have to be reduced, and across the board, and perhaps we’ll end up with a situation where clubs are recruiting players who want to pull on the shirt of that club and, if that happens, then I think what we have at Southern Road under the management of Kev [Town boss Kevin Hill], will be a very attractive proposition for many players.”


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