Newark Town set for another season in step seven after The Football Association declared all non-league football below National League void
Newark Town manager Luke Parsons said his squad was devastated after The Football Association declared all non-league football below the National League void, meaning it's just as if a ball hadn't been kicked all season.
Yesterday, The FA said its non-league steps from three to seven would be ended with immediate effect and all results will be expunged.
It means that there will be no promotion or relegation of clubs between steps three to seven, or relegation from step two.
Town were top of the Central Midlands Football League North Division, 11 points clear of second-placed Dinnington Town, who had five games in-hand on the Blues.
Town had enjoyed a flying start to life back in Newark, having previously ground-shared with Collingham FC.
The club were the league's top-scorers with 94 goals and had conceded just 16 in their 24 matches, but none of that now matters.
"We are devastated, that is the only word I can use," said Parsons, who spoke to the Advertiser moments after the FA announced its decision.
"I have just broke the news to the lads and they are devastated. None of them can believe the decision. All of our hard work was for nothing.
"It is different for other teams in our league because some haven't even played 75% of their matches yet, but we were two games from finishing.
"We completed 95% of the season and didn't lose a match in the league. We lost just two games all season, both in cups, and it is just devastating.
"We believed we would be playing in step six.
"We know we are good enough for step six, we have beaten teams who play step six, so all of those ambitions we had for this year have just gone to waste."
Parsons was empathic not just towards his players, but for title rivals Dinnington, who also had the same ambitions as his side.
"It is the same for all of the clubs up and down the country," he said. "All of the training, all of the hard work in pre-season, all of the work we did on a match-day and that time spent away from our families seems for nothing. It is heartbreaking.
"We managed to bring in some players to get us out of this league, who wanted to play at step six and higher and that is not going to happen now.
"It is going to affect all of us, especially myself and Tony (Joynes, Town's assistant coach) moving forwards.
"Hopefully we get the attitude of 'right, lets go again and win it', but there is no doubt it has set us back.
"We had a three-year plan and, don't get me wrong, it would have been as tough to take if Dinnington won the league and they rightful earned promotion, but at least we could have put our hands up and said we were beaten by the better team.
"For it to be void with two games to go is absolutely crazy. It is madness."
Collingham, who also play in the North Division, were tenth in the league.
They had played five games less than Town and were part of a mid-table bunch who were all battling it out for a top six finish.
The Station Road side also had a Floodlit Cup semi-final against Retford to look forward to.
A spokesperson for the club said: "[We are] sad to hear that this season is now null and void.
"We are gutted to be missing out on a cup semi-final versus Retford."