First-half - Ethon Varian puts South Shields keeper Myles Boney under pressure (1)

A legal challenge to a decision to end the Northern Premier League season early, which meant Nantwich Town missing out on possible promotion, has failed.

The challenge was put together by South Shields FC, who were top of the NPL by 12 points when the FA ratified a decision to null and void the 2019-20 season below the National League (step 3 to 7).

Nantwich were one place below the play-offs at the time in March when all football was stopped because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Their last match was at home to South Shields, which the leaders narrowly won 0-1.

South Shields submitted an appeal on behalf of hundreds of supportive clubs across the country which shared its view the original decision was flawed and taken without due consultation.

But the FA issued a statement yesterday, saying: “An independent arbitral tribunal has dismissed a legal challenge brought by South Shields FC against the decision of the FA Council to end the season with no promotion or relegation at Steps 3 to 7 of the National League System due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The three person panel rejected the club’s arguments in their entirety that the decision was unlawful.

“The FA is acutely aware that any decision taken in such difficult circumstances would leave some clubs disappointed.

“However, we welcome the findings of the independent tribunal that the decision of the FA Council was taken after due and proper consultation and following careful consideration of the alternative options.”

A statement from South Shields said: “It is with great disappointment that the club can confirm a legal challenge relating to the decision to null and void the 2019-20 season from step 3 to 7 of the non-league system has been unsuccessful.

“The club submitted an appeal on behalf of hundreds of supportive clubs across the country which shared its view that the original decision was flawed and taken without due consultation.

“An arbitration hearing has now been held before a panel and although the judgement insisted it was “impossible not to feel sympathy for South Shields” and similarly affected clubs, the claim was dismissed.

“The club is grateful for all the support it received from a significant number of other clubs in making its legal challenge.

“The process was very time consuming and expensive and the outcome is clearly hugely disappointing.

“Our legal options have now been exhausted which is a huge disappointment to not just South Shields FC, but the hundreds of other clubs which supported the campaign and saw their own hopes dashed by this decision.”

(Pic: Nantwich Town v South Shields 2019-20 season, by Jonathan White)

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