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Reaction of Stamford manager Graham Drury after Stamford AFC's season is ended by Football Association ruling

Manager Graham Drury admitted he has been left 'devastated' by a Football Association decision to deny the Daniels promotion.

However, he has vowed that his side will come back stronger after the decision to declare the season over with all results expunged.

Despite finishing in second spot, just two points behind Northern Premier League South East Division leaders Leek Town and 13 clear of Cleethorpes in third place, a decision has been made that there will be no promotion or relegation this season.

Graham Drury. Photo: Dan Allen (32459281)
Graham Drury. Photo: Dan Allen (32459281)

Drury said: "If I was side facing relegation then I would be over the moon, but as a top side we're all devastated.

"I didn't really want to go up as a second place team if I'm honest, but we would obviously have taken that.

"It's devastating for all the lads and the amount of effort they have put in to see the season effectively go to waste.

"But I couldn't really see any other way of doing it. It would have been just as unfair to relegate sides when they were fighting to stay in the division.

"It is very difficult for us to take this decision at the moment and of course it is frustrating, but it's probably more so for Leek because they were top of the table, two points clear of us and with a game in hand.

"I did believe that with the form we were in, not losing games and scoring late winners, that we had a great chance of catching them and our recent run had really showed the character of the boys.

"It is devastating to see that unbelievable amount of effort not be rewarded with a promotion, but we've just got to dust ourselves down and go again.

"Hopefully I can keep the squad all together and, with the additions of Joe Burgess and Joe Boachie this week, then we will be flying.

"It's a shame that it has had to end like this, but we've won the last seven games, scored 21 goals and conceded only five and we finished with a 5-1 win over our local rivals so it wasn't a bad way to end it.

"I'm still fired up to have another go again next season and hopefully we can put ourselves in with a chance of doing it again."

A statement from the Northern Premier League on their decision to end the campaign said: "We have been working collaboratively with the National League System (NLS), the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game since the outbreak of COVID-19 on how to conclude the 2019-20 season in the most appropriate way possible.

"These are challenging circumstances for English football and all decisions taken are in the best interests of the game and in consultation across key stakeholders.

"Our primary concern will always be for the safety and welfare of clubs, players, staff, officials, volunteers and supporters during this unprecedented time.

"These steps take into account the financial impact during this uncertain period, while considering the fairest method on how the sporting outcomes for the season will be decided with the integrity of the leagues in mind.

"The National League System (NLS) and the women’s football pyramid were able to build a consensus among their leagues and, where possible, aimed to create a consistent approach across all leagues, while taking into account the unique characteristics of each individual league.

"As a result, The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end and all results will be expunged.

"This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two.

"These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.

"We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible.

"The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season.

"Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season.

"This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.

"Where appropriate, the above decisions will be put to The FA Council for ratification.

"Throughout this period we continue to seek guidance in respect of the government’s financial support packages relative to COVID-19 and how they are applicable to clubs in the NLS, the women’s football pyramid and the wider grassroots game."

This decision also applies to teams across the area in the United Counties, Peterborough and Leicestershire Senior Leagues.

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