THE 2020-21 season is officially over for "non-elite" football clubs.

The Football Association have released a statement confirming the campaign at Steps 3-6 of the National League System has been ended with immediate effect.

It means a second straight league season for the likes of Warrington Town and Warrington Rylands is curtailed prematurely.

However, the FA have said it is their intention to resume the FA Vase - a competition Rylands are still in - as soon as possible.

Clubs involved have been told to be ready to play by mid-April. Blues were drawn to face Shildon away in the last 32.

Reaction from Warrington Rylands boss Dave McNabb on Twitter

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Rylands' FA Vase campaign looks set to continue despite their league season being curtailed. Picture by Mark Percy

In a statement, the FA said more than three quarters of clubs between Steps 3 and 6 wished to curtail the season if it could not be restarted with limited spectators and hospitality before April 1.

While organised outdoor sports such as football will return from March 29 under the government's roadmap out of lockdown, matches would have to be played behind closed doors until May 17 at the earliest.

Here is the FA statement in full

Our 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 per cent of clubs at Steps 3 and 4, and 95.8 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75 per cent 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, our 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.