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'It's right to call off the season', says Burnham boss Ashleigh James

Manny Williams

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Burnham boss Ash James accepts there probably won’t be enough time to finish the league season when lockdown is lifted and therefore believes calling the campaign off now and declaring it null and void is the best thing to do for all clubs.

This was James’ first season as a player/manager, after he took over from Paul Shone just weeks before the season kicked off in August.

However, while he’s ‘gutted’ he won’t get the chance to complete it – with league bosses looking increasingly likely to call it off rather than wait to see if the situation improves ahead of the spring – he’s content that would be the right decision and says people need to look at the bigger picture.

That said he doesn’t think clubs should have to wait until August for their next taste of competitive football and believes a World Cup style competition in Bucks and Berks could be hastily arranged if things do improve with the virus to give players some action and bring some money through the gate.

Some have suggested the league could be extended into June or July to cram in the matches, but James would prefer to see a clean break and is confident the Blues would be in a better position to compete next season.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” he said.

“I think it’s going to be impossible to cram in all the games, so I think voiding it is what they’re going to have to do.

“We need to look at the bigger picture.

“People are dying and this virus doesn’t seem to be letting up.

“I don’t know how it’s going to work with promotions and relegations, but it will mean that two seasons in a row this has happened.

“You could maybe play games again from March or April, and you might get two or three months in, and then see what the points situation is like. But we don’t know when we’ll be allowed to get back.”

He added: “If we don’t do something it will be a long time to go without football. If they did decide to void it, they could maybe bring in a cup competition. Maybe like a Bucks Cup and play against teams nearby.

“There wouldn’t be much travelling between the clubs, and you’d be getting fans through the gate to help out with the finances.

“You could have these competitions spread over a couple of divisions, and then the winners regionally could play each other in play-offs or a final. I think that could be quite fun.”

The Burnham boss also doesn’t think it’s realistic to ask players to return so quickly after lockdown when they haven’t had the chance to train properly or play warm up games. That, he says would be a recipe for disaster. Burnham made a poor start to the campaign but had moved into the relative comfort of mid-table when the season was halted back in November. James believes this puts him in a good position to look at the situation with an objective eye.

“Especially after such a long lay-off,” he said. “They would have to do another pre-season again and then get up to speed. Injuries would be happening all the time.

“There’s not going to be enough time for the players to get fit again, and muscle injuries would be so common.

“It’s just not going to work; it’s not going to be realistic.

“Making it null and void is probably the best option, but I don’t think they should just leave it at that. They should try to get people playing football again and get fans through the gates to help the clubs.

“I’m gutted. I want the season to go ahead. But the longer this goes on it just can’t happen.

“We’ve got to be realistic and look at the bigger picture. I’m itching to play and coach and be involved again, but hopefully something can be done to keep people ticking over.

“If not, we’ll just have to wait for the new season. We’ll just have to get our planning right for next season, I guess. That first game could be the second week of August.

“If I was on top, I’d be annoyed for sure because you’d think that if the season carried on with the form we’re in, we might be in with a chance of promotion,” he added.

“Westfields last season were flying, and they threw a bit of money at it as well. To have the season null and voided, they’ve struggled a bit this season because of that. Binfield, they’ve started very well, who knows what could have happened for them. The chance of promotion has been denied to them, and other teams have been saved from the drop.”

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