SOUTHERN League football is to remain on hold for now, following a vote by member clubs this week and subject to Football Association (FA) confirmation.

A statement released by the Pitching In Southern League last (Thursday) night said: "Following consultation with member clubs and discussions between the Steps 3 and 4 leagues, the following statement is made.

"The clubs in membership of the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian Leagues (the Trident Leagues) met earlier this week to consider the challenges and issues brought about by the reintroduction of tiers after the raising of the nationwide lockdown with effect from yesterday.

"The clubs were asked to vote on a proposition that the pause in fixtures be continued with a regular review in light of changes to the tiers and/or grants becoming available - the first review to be no later than December 16.

"The total votes cast by the 224 clubs show a substantial number of clubs in agreement with the proposition.

"The matter has been considered today and is subject to comment by the FA."

Of the teams in the Southern League, only one (Truro City) is located in tier one, with 65 in tier two and 16 in tier three.

FA guidance published on Tuesday states that clubs at Steps 3-6 of the National League System (NLS), which includes the Southern League, in tier two areas can accommodate a phased and limited return of spectators in line with government guidance.

Adults must not travel in and out of tier three to play grassroots football, but there are travel exemptions, and players and essential club staff at Steps 3-6 of the NLS can go into and out of tier three areas.

Crucially, however, clubhouses must stay closed in tier two areas unless they operate as if they were a restaurant.

The Southern League asked all of its member clubs - including Taunton Town (Premier South) and Frome Town (Division 1 South) - to attend an emergency Zoom meeting on Tuesday evening, to discuss restarting the competition.

Ahead of the clubs’ vote on Wednesday, Taunton chairman Kevin Sturmey told the County Gazette: “There are too many things against [the season restarting] and not enough for at the moment, and I’ve heard from clubs who are not sure the season will finish.

“We can’t have a catering van on the premises, and we can’t have a bar as it’s not a restaurant - so our matchday experience is compromised without those facilities.

“That secondary spend [on food and drink] is important for us; we don’t rely on it as much as some clubs, but it’s still part of our matchday income and pays for things.

“And if people were all to come to a game at the same time - they may all come at 2.45pm [for a 3pm kick-off] if they can’t have a drink beforehand - then there’s problems there, too.”

Sturmey added: “The integrity of the competition would be compromised if clubs are unable to play [due to Covid-19 restrictions].

“You can’t have a competition where a club has to play four or five games a week later in the season, through no fault of their own.

“There’s bound to be bad weather [causing more postponements] ahead too!

“Our players all have jobs and play part-time, so to condense the season more could lead to more injuries, and tiredness from the travelling.

“Their welfare has to be considered, and we have to remember that too many people are dying in this second wave.

“I was surprised to see so much of the country placed in tier two, but I can’t see the tiers changing on December 16 - it would more likely be in January.

“We have to remember that people have lost loved ones [to Covid-19], and err on the side of caution.”