Merthyr Town have announced that their 2020/21 campaign will be ‘suspended with immediate effect’.
The Southern League Premier South club will continue to run their community operations, but are set to not participate in the upcoming season on the pitch. The club have explained: “We anticipate that the restrictions regarding the blanket ban on allowing supporters into grounds in Wales are unlikely to be relaxed in the near future, and that the next step taken will possibly be to actually increase the restrictions on gatherings, which may not be lifted for a number weeks, even possibly months.
“We are currently in a unique position out of the 88 clubs at Step 3, as the only one that is prevented from playing home games in front of our own fans. The National Game Board has consistently stated that it would not be possible to start the season at Step 3 and below playing behind closed doors, but that’s exactly the position that we now find ourselves facing for an indefinite period.
“To mitigate against all of the above, the board considered the following options: Option One – We take our games across the border to play in England. Costs increase due to ground sharing and we lose significant matchday revenue including bar, catering, hospitality boxes, match and ball sponsor, sale of club merchandise and car parking income.
“Option Two – We start the season playing behind closed doors. There is no matchday income generated that our business model needs, our anticipated and current financial reserves that we have already ‘ring-fenced’ to pay the playing budget would run out in late-November with no fans in the ground. This would put the club in a position where we would inevitably be eventually trading insolvently and we could not allow that to happen.
“Option Three – We request that our season is ‘suspended’ subject to an agreement that we retain our place in the Southern League Premier Division. There is already precedent for this course of action, with Guernsey and the Isle of Man being allowed to ‘hibernate’ for a season. In order to achieve any chance of obtaining approval, the request had to be made on the Friday morning, to ensure that all of the necessary steps could be taken.
“We have been advised that the National Game Board will not penalise any clubs due to the pandemic and we would also be able to retain our place in next season’s FA Cup, due to the unprecedented circumstances that we currently face.”