AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley hopes for positive decision on restarting season after FA meeting

AFC Fylde manager Jim Bentley and his players are hopeful that a decision to continue their season could be imminent.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 8:00 am

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The FA’s Alliance committee meets on Friday to consider a joint-proposal from a group of non-league ‘step two’ (National League North and South) clubs to form a new ‘mini-league’ to complete the season.

Fylde are among 19 clubs who lost the original vote – their season was declared null and void three weeks ago – but are campaigning to play on among themselves and fight for promotion to the National League.

Time is of the essence in Fylde's bid to complete their season, though a crucial FA meeting takes place on Friday

Bentley, whose club stand second in NL North having played only once since January 9, told The Gazette: “There’s a proposal on the table which goes before the FA on Friday.

“We just have to wait and see, but time is passing and we need to get our foot down if the season is going the continue, so ideally we want a decision quickly.”

Amid all the uncertainty Bentley is full of praise for his players, who have continued the train daily and apply themselves professionally.

“There’s still no clarification but the players’ attitude has been spot on,” he said.

“They’ve trained every day and we’ve played a couple of friendlies, including the one here against Huddersfield Under-23s last weekend, when everyone got pitch-time.

“It was a positive performance and we were really pleased (Fylde won 4-0), not just with the goals but with the attitude of everybody and the fitness levels.

“Everyone is in tip-top condition and we are monitoring the players daily.

“We had an in-house game on Thursday but we won’t have a friendly this weekend. You don’t want to do too much because you want to peak at the right time.

“Hopefully we will have a positive decision soon, we’ll know what structure we are looking at and we can plan from there.”

The details of the proposals have remained under wraps and a key question is how many teams would be promoted via the mini-league.

Promoting the champions only would serve to restore the National League to 24 clubs from its current 23. However, any proposal to promote a second club, possible via play-offs, would mean relegating a club from the National League and could therefore trigger another debate.

Bentley sounds as though he would sign up to any proposal which meant returning to the field in the coming weeks with the possibility of promotion at the end.

“We just want to play games and I know all the players do,” he added.

“Within my own family, people are looking forward to starting grassroots football again, but it’s my livelihood and I’m still not sure when I’ll be able to continue.

“I’ve missed enough football this season after my surgery and I don’t want to miss any more.”

“We’re just hoping for a positive decision and an agreed structure so we can get back to doing our jobs.”

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