Ashford & District Sunday Football League
News Report

Season Cancelled- What Does That Mean?

Author: Ryan Mills, 05/04/20


(*The opinions expressed in this article are solely of the author and not necessarily those of the Ashford & District Sunday Football League. The adjusted league tables are not official and are for illustrated purposes only).

Following the government's announcement of the social distancing guidelines to slow down the spread of the covid-19 pandemic, football has quite rightly taken a back seat. Three-weeks ago the Ashford & District Sunday League (ADSFL) announced that the 2019/20 season would be prematurely ended with no viable way to continue the current campaign to which several other competitions, most recently steps 3-7 of the non-league football pyramid (all below the National League Northern and Southern divisions) have followed suit.

Whilst this decision was met with disappointment at the time, it's quite clear that the decision was the correct one with the intention to provide clarity for the coming weeks for the players, club officials, referees and supporters. Fast forward back to this weekend and it's difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel at the moment for grassroots football as the country, especially our beloved NHS, battles to stay on its feet.

Although the ADSFL are yet to formally announce anything it's likely that the 2019/20 season will be classed null and void with no awarding of championship winners medals for the first time in the competitions 60-year history. The option to determine the final positions of the four divisions by a points per game average has been discussed but it's unlikely at this time to go down that route, with the most likely of decisions to just scrap the season, including the cancellation of all six cup finals. The Ashford Charity Trophy competition, managed by a different committee, have already confirmed that the 2020 final will not take place.

But what would applying the points per game (PPG) calculation to the league tables change or determine? Here we take a look at the PPG standings which has been adopted by the local league in Rugby Union most recently:

Premier Division

Bromley Green and Brewmaster had both played seven league fixtures when the league was suspended in mid-March, and both had 18 points to their name. Using the PPG calculation the two rivals both end up on 2.57 PPG with Bromley Green enjoying the better goal difference and topping the table. With half of the season still unplayed it's fair to say that the PPG method would have been an unfair on Brewmaster, who ironically were the only side to defeat Bromley Green this season. The only real change to the current league table sees reigning champions Kennington leapfrog above Stanhope & Beaver Rangers having played a game less, which would have been a real blow for Rangers who have been impressive in their first season back in the top division for several years following promotion last term.

Division One

The mean average calculation doesn't affect the top-five teams who all retain the positions they held at the suspension of the season with Sellindge SSC holding onto top spot on goal difference with an exact PPG record as second place and closest challengers Aldington. The two title rivals had not played each other in the league this season and both had five fixtures left to play, which is a real shame that we were denied what was turning out to be one of the tightest championship deciders in years. The only teams benefiting from PPG were Charing who jump above Folkestone United due playing less games than United, and there excellent recent form could have seen John Pearce's side climb even higher had the season not been ended.

Division Two

You really need to get your calculators out in Division Two! League leaders Park Farm Rangers drop to sixth place using the PPG formula mainly due to having played more games than their rivals and just how close the teams were at the point when the league was suspended. Incredibly there was just seven points separating the top-eight teams in the division which allows Kent Sunday Junior Trophy semi-finalists South Willesborough to finish top on PPG just ahead of Hamstreet and AFC Guildhall. Another team benefiting would be Ashford Cavaliers who come out fifth on PPG to improve on their real life and current eighth-place standing.

Division Three

The PPG calculator had the biggest effect in Division Three due to the difference in the amount of games played by some teams in the top half of the league standings. Leaders Ashford United Thirds only had four games remaining whilst some others had not even reached the halfway point of the campaign, which sees sixth-place Singleton Barn rise to the top on PPG pipping Ashford United. Mersham Reserves (fifth up to third on PPG) are the other big risers. Points per game or not, there's no fair way to award trophies without playing the games, as some would argue how could you award a championship title to a team that haven't won as many games as someone playing more?

What is clear is that the AGM originally scheduled for late-June, as well as the annual league presentation dinner have been postponed meaning that it's likely that there will be a delay to the start of the 2020/21 season should we recover from the current crisis. It's hopeful that grassroots football will return for next season but right now it's hard to imagine what will change in time to kick off again in September, and perhaps to most likely of solutions would be a reduced season starting in early winter, but that's a while off deciding yet.

What's more important is we support our NHS and protect our loved ones by staying at home unless it's absolutely necessary to go out. My thanks go out to all of those players, managers and referees associated with our league who work for the NHS, the emergency services or are still key workers and trying to keep this country going whilst we battle this highly contagious and deadly virus.

Football used to be life, but right now there's more important things to battle!


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