'How do we survive?' - Football club 'disappointed' as league return delayed again

Dereham Town Football Club's ground, Aldiss Park. Picture: Jordan Blyth

Dereham Town Football Club's ground, Aldiss Park. Picture: Jordan Blyth - Credit: Archant

The third biggest football team in Norfolk has been left '"incredibly disappointed" after being told its league return has been delayed.

Bosses at Dereham Town Football Club were told on Thursday, December 3, that the return to the pitch in the Isthmian League would be delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Clubs within the league voted to pause upcoming fixtures, despite the lifting on national coronavirus restrictions on December 2.

A spokesperson from the Isthmian Northern Premier and Southern League said: "The clubs in membership of the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian Leagues (the Trident Leagues) met earlier this week to consider the challenges and issues brought about by the reintroduction of tiers after the raising of the nationwide lockdown with effect from yesterday.

"The clubs were asked to vote on a proposition that the pause in fixtures be continued with a regular review in light of changes to the tiers and/or grants becoming available.

"The total votes cast by the 224 clubs show a substantial number of clubs in agreement with the proposition.


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"The matter has been considered today by all concerned and a further statement will be issued in due course."

Dereham Town was forced to pause their upcoming matches when restrictions come into force at the start of Novemeber.

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With the national Government giving the green light for teams to return to the pitch and fans being able to watch on the sidelines, the club voted for the return of resuming the season in a safe manor.

A spokesperson from Dereham Town Football Club said: "We are incredibly disappointed with this result. We of course understand that there is much going on in the world right now and many challenges are being faced, challenges that are far beyond football.

"However, once given the green light by the government to return, we were 100pc behind the return in a safe manner.

"We believe that where there is a will there is a way and we felt that the return could have been managed, as it had been prior to lockdown, by working together, much like any other business has had to, to ensure that we could all have the safe return of the game we love. 

"We fully appreciate that there would have been challenges with the return and that solutions for those in tier 3 in particular would have had to have been found, but why not work to try and find those solutions?

"As things stand now, the season is now paused for all, with no timeframe for return and no support to manage our ongoing costs. 

"We were astonished to hear other clubs putting up so many barriers for the safe return when we have already been told it is safe to play by the government. 

"We are a self-funded, community football club - If we don't play football then what are we and how do we survive?"

The Magpies first team manager, Adam Gusterson, said: "It is disappointing news on two fronts. Firstly, to deny an opportunity to get back to playing when all teams in our league are able to do so, safely, in front of spectators, is something I can't get my head around.

"The additional strain this puts on clubs by delaying an opportunity to get back on their feet and operational is mind-boggling and goes completely against a number of other leagues actions, which again only serves to frustrate.

"We will now have to cram more fixtures into a shorter space of time, which is a scenario I am astounded the league haven't moved differently on to avoid"

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