CLUBS in the EFL watched on with interest yesterday as the decision was taken to terminate all promotion and relegation in steps three to six of the non-leagues as a reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Football Association has confirmed no football will be played until next season in the Northern Premier League and below, with all results declared null and void.

A decision on whether to continue the current campaign has yet to be made by the National League, who govern steps one and two. Should they decide to follow suit, the impact on League Two – which would then not require any teams to be relegated – would be severe.

One compromise could be to conclude the season by awarding places according to points per game, allowing clubs to be promoted between the EFL, National League and the National League North/South.

That would also solve an issue for the EFL who are keen to return to a full quota of 92 clubs after the demise of Bury and had planned on relegating just one side – currently Stevenage – from its ranks.

Opinion is thought to be split among the National League – which will but the matter to a vote – between those who want to allow time for the season to be completed later in the summer and those who are struggling financially and would prefer an instant decision.

The FA said in a statement yesterday they were engaging in “regular dialogue and consultation with all stakeholders regarding next steps across both the men’s and women’s national league pyramid and grassroots football — no official decision has been made yet, but we will make a further announcement at the appropriate time”.

All major organisations have underlined their commitment to completing the 2019/20 season in the Premier League, Championship and Leagues One and Two but the issue of when football can legitimately and safely resume remains a complete unknown.

An announcement is expected next week to confirm that the April 30 return date initially pencilled in by the authorities is unworkable, and that mid-to-late May is a more realistic focal point for players to be able to train and prepare for competitive matches.

The longer delay will place extra financial pressure on clubs to sustain wage bills without the cash-flow generated from gate receipts and though the EFL and PFA have pledged to provide cash to ease the most immediate problems, calls for definitive action are bound to become louder as the delay goes on.