No more games will be played and the campaign is declared null and void. Rec were ten points adrift in the only relegation place while Penistone Church were fourth, having slipped out of the three promotion spots the week before the play stopped. Worsbrough Bridge were third-bottom in Division One, with two sides to go down.
Penistone secretary Dave Hampshire said: “We’re all really gutted but it was the only way it could have been decided because it wasn’t doable to play into the summer at our level. We came second last season but only one went up and now this. If we had gone to the end of the season I think we would have made it because we had the easiest run-in. So I think there is someone up in the heavens who has it in for Penistone Church. If there was a table for being the unluckiest club, we’d be top. There are worse things like people dying or losing jobs, and we need to remember that.”
Athersley’s Pete Goodlad added: “We were all prepared to go with whatever decision. We expected to be relegated and we made plans for that. We are over the moon and I want to see how this young side can do after a proper pre-season. Everybody is up for it.”
Rec and Church, the two highest-placed teams in the town who were due to play each other on Wednesday of next week, both said last that they could face closure due to the virus. But both have set up donation pages online to offset their loss in revenue from the cancelled games this season, with more than £1,000 raised so far each, and both Goodlad and Hampshire are now more confident that their clubs will not go under.
Meanwhile, Rec have announced that Shane Kelsey will be their first team manager from next season, with the club’s founder Goodlad returning to his general manager role. Goodlad has been manager since sacking Graham Nicholas after one game of this season in which the Penguins are now bottom of NCEL Premier Division. Kelsey, the former Shaw Lane AFC striker, has been player/coach for Athersley this season.
Goodlad said: “It’s an appointment that we are very excited about. Shane is a great lad and a very good coach. “He is the right person to take the club forward. I was only ever temporary manager for the season so we could find a permanent manager for next season. “He is saying that he’s only been in the job a few days and he’s kept us up.”