REACTION to the Sydenhams Wessex League season being made null and void has been mixed, with more controversy to come as Isle of Wight League clubs vote on how its season should also end, amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Local football has not been hit so hard since the Second World War.

Wessex League chiefs followed a directive from The FA and National League System (NLS) to bring the curtain down on the season, with no promotion or relegation from the Premier (step five in the NLS tier) and Division 1 (step six).

While this has been a relief to Premier club, Cowes Sports, who have been in the bottom two most of the campaign, and East Cowes Vics, third bottom of Division 1, the same cannot be said of high-flying Newport.

For Newport, of Division 1, having their season cut short when well placed for promotion and enjoying a purple patch of form, it has been a huge disappointment for the club and its supporters.

Isle of Wight County Press: Connor Kelly scores for Newport against Alton. Photo: Graham BrownConnor Kelly scores for Newport against Alton. Photo: Graham Brown

Plans to begin work on their new stadium, WightFibre Park — due to start this spring — have been unceremoniously put on ice.

But the club’s chairman, Tony Wake, a director of South Coast Leisure — overseeing the project — remains upbeat.

“We don’t know when this will end, so everything’s on hold. The virus has delayed things, but it won’t stop work going ahead eventually,” said Tony.

Isle of Wight County Press: Work on the new WightFibre Stadium at Whippingham has been put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.Work on the new WightFibre Stadium at Whippingham has been put on hold because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As far as playing at Beatrice Avenue is concerned, we agreed an option 12 months ago to use the ground for another season.

“If coronavirus restrictions were to continue for any length of time, I’d imagine we could extend the deal, but we’re in unknown territory.”

The Isle of Wight League’s four divisions will also come to an end one way or the other.

The Island's 23 clubs are to vote on one of three options to do this — a Hampshire FA instruction handed down to the Isle of Wight Divisional Football Association (IWDFA):

  • To declare the season null and void, with no promotion or relegation and no award of winners and runners-up medals.
  • League positions and promotions are resolved by a points-per-game calculation.
  • League positions are concluded by applying a 0-0 scoreline, with one point awarded to each team from all the remaining fixtures.

The votes will be sent to the IWDFA following a special meeting today (Monday), with the result expected to be announced on Wednesday morning.

Isle of Wight County Press: Whitecroft and Barton Sports boss Steve Rayner could see his side miss out on a sixth Island League Division 1 title if the vote against them today (Monday). Whitecroft and Barton Sports boss Steve Rayner could see his side miss out on a sixth Island League Division 1 title if the vote against them today (Monday).

The Island League chairman, Ted Sheath, said: “It is very sad it has come to this. It won’t be a good outcome for some clubs in line for promotion, but good for some facing relegation.

“I believe to declare the season null and void and wipe the season out would be the least problematic option.

“I’ve seen seasons curtailed by the weather, but I’ve never seen anything like this before.

“We couldn’t have played on. It’s impossible to start before May and I envisage huge complications if we’d carried on.”

The fate of the cup competitions are less clear.

Although the Isle of Wight Senior (Gold) Cup and the Isle of Wight Memorial Cup — in its centenary year — have been scrapped, the Isle of Wight Challenge Cup and the Junior A and B cups are hoped to be played during pre-season, as they are at the semi-final stages.

Isle of Wight County Press: Shanklin boss Paul Haward, left, and Brading manager, Steve Lawton, will be desperate to see their Hampshire Intermediate Cup final played.Shanklin boss Paul Haward, left, and Brading manager, Steve Lawton, will be desperate to see their Hampshire Intermediate Cup final played.

More importantly, the Hampshire FA still want its cup finals to be played — the all-Island Intermediate Cup clash between Brading Town and Shanklin and the Plate match between Brading Town Reserves and Testlands — in pre-season.

Both matches were due to be played on April 25.

However, should coronavirus lockdown extend into pre-season and impinge on next season, the situation will be reviewed.

“I’ll be very surprised if any cups are played pre-season, the way things are going,” said Andrew Justice, the IWDFA’s honorary cup secretary.