Horsham manager Di Paola - FA's decision to void season the right thing to do

The FA’s decision to null and void the season for teams below step three of the non-league pyramid was the ‘right thing to do’, according to Horsham manager Dominic Di Paola.

Dominic Di Paola was disappointed a fine first season for Horsham in the BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division ended prematurely. Picture by Steve Robards
Dominic Di Paola was disappointed a fine first season for Horsham in the BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division ended prematurely. Picture by Steve Robards

All football below National League level was terminated with immediate effect last Thursday because of the coronavirus pandemic, with all results from the 2019-20 campaign expunged.

The ruling means there will be no promotion or relegation this season.

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The Hornets sat sixth in the table on their return to the BetVictor Isthmian Premier Division after a seven-year absence.

Di Paola was disappointed the season ended prematurely – the Hornets were just four points off the play-offs and had a Velocity Trophy semi-final against Cheshunt in the pipeline.

But the Horsham manager admitted there was no other option but to void the season.

Working out the final standings on a points per game basis was mooted but Di Paola felt that this would have only fuelled the ‘agenda’ of certain clubs.

He said: ”I was really happy with the season in general.

“It is a shame that it ended when it did, being so close to the play-offs and having that semi-final.

“I know there’s some clubs moaning that it was voided but I just don’t think there was another way round it in my opinion.

"There are certain teams that seem to be keen to go on points per game for their own agenda.

“I don’t see why if you’re top with ten games to go you should automatically finish the season with promotion.

“Other teams that have gone through sticky times have hit good form.

“I think Cray would have won it in my opinion, so they are probably one of the teams with the biggest reason to be annoyed by not carrying on.

“They were massively the form team with ten games to go and I would’ve put money on them winning it.

“But I think voiding the season is the right thing to do.”

Di Paola revealed his players had been ‘pragmatic’ about the FA’s decision.

The management and players have ‘accepted’ the decision and were now ready and waiting for a concrete decision on the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Di Paola added: “Our players have been pretty pragmatic about it.

“They’ve just accepted decision for what it is really.

“When football comes back again we’ll start again.

“We’re accepting of the fact that whatever happens people aren’t going to be happy.

“We had a semi-final to play. It was our first chance of silverware for a long time.

“But that’s football. You’ve got to get back on it really.

“It’s strange to not have football but there are more important things in the world.”

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