AFC Fylde manager reflects as football takes time off as a result of the coronavirus crisis

AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley admitted to being surprised that National League games were played last weekend amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 20th March 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 20th March 2020, 11:52 am
AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley Picture: Steve McLellan

Although the Premier League and EFL had called a halt to matches this time last week, non-league’s top tier, along with matches in their North and South divisions, still went ahead with the Coasters seeing off Aldershot Town at Mill Farm.

Forty eight hours later, however, the National League, along with the Northern Premier and North West Counties Leagues, opted to suspend matches.

At the moment, National League matches are now on hold until April 3 at the earliest.

That means the Coasters have to rearrange games with Sutton United, Chorley, Maidenhead United and Hartlepool United.

“I was quite surprised (to play),” Bentley said.

“The day before, we found out the EFL and Premier League were off and I assumed we’d follow suit.

“The National League took the advice of the government and went ahead, even if a few games didn’t.

“We were looking forward to the Sutton game on the Tuesday, full of confidence, but then the decision (to suspend) was made.

“It’s a very strange situation and it’s totally different to anything we’ve had before.

“The heads of department at the club have got to do what we’ve got to do and look at what the government is recommending until we hear any differently.

“We are due to start again on April 4 (at Ebbsfleet United). That’s what we’ve been told and we’re putting a plan in place for that.”

Given the coronavirus crisis, players and coaching staff have been told to remain away from the club until Monday.

With advice being issued against unnecessary travel and the need for so-called ‘social distancing’, it means a quiet dressing room at Mill Farm.

However, in line with sides up and down the country, being away from the club doesn’t mean extra leisure time.

“They have all got training plans to continue with on their own,” Bentley said.

“We’re going off the government guidelines about mass gatherings and unnecessary travel – and there isn’t a greater social meeting place than a football changing room.

“It’s one of those things, we’ve got to do what we’ve been asked to do by the government.”