Sussex sides in the Isthmian and Southern Combination League saw their season come to an end on Wednesday night.

The FA released a statement regarding Steps 3-6 of the National League System (NLS) It stated the following: “Our alliance and leagues committees have now considered a large amount of data and information submitted by clubs across the National League System (NLS) Steps 3-6 as part of a survey to gather views on the continuation or conclusion of the 2020-21 league season, in addition to the information set out in the Government’s roadmap this week. 

“The results of the survey showed that over 76% of all clubs across Steps 3-6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020-21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before April 1, 2021.

“It has also been decided that subject to FA Council’s decision regarding the curtailment of the season at Steps 3 to 6, both committees will revisit discussions around a potential restructure at Steps 4-6 of the NLS, which was previously agreed and has been on hold since the 2019-20 season. A further update on this will be provided in due course.”

The Isthmian and Southern Combination League has been suspended since January.

It means Sussex clubs in the Isthmian Premier (Worthing, Horsham, Lewes, and Bognor) and the Isthmian South East (Hastings, East Grinstead, Chichester, Whitehawk, Haywards Heath, and Burgess Hill) have all seen their season come to an end.

In addition, the Southern Combination League Premier and Division One have will also not be able to resume their seasons.

That will come as a disappointment to all Sussex sides, but especially Worthing, Hastings, and Saltdean, who were top of the Isthmian Premier, Isthmian South East, and Southern Combination League respectively.

Worthing boss Adam Hinshelwood (pictured) admits the decision was inevitable given the National League South and North having their season ended recently.

The Argus:

He added: “Also with fans not being able to come back until the end of March at the earliest, it meant we would not be able to restart the season until April and that would then delay the start of next season.

“I am not one to dwell on what could have been because it will not change the decision.

“We are looking forward to having fans back and to next season.”

Saltdean manager Bryan O’Toole (pictured below) was disappointed by the decision, but not surprised by it.

The Argus:

He said: “We are obviously bitterly disappointed but it was not a surprise given the bigger picture.

“At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, I was sceptical about the whole thing.

“However, then when I heard a few close friends had lost their parents I thought, ‘What am I moaning about, having no football when people are losing their parents?’

“I would rather end early and get a full season next season.

“But for us had we not had the month break earlier in the season I am adamant we would not have been knocked out of the FA Vase.

“For anyone who watched the highlights and saw the numerous chances we had they would wonder how we didn’t win.

“We then drew our next two games in the league after four weeks off. We were five points clear at the top but had we not had the month off we would have been 11 points clear.”

O’Toole is looking forward to next season.

He said: “We will be able to keep hold of all our players for next season, after speaking to my assistant.

“I will be in contact with the squad over the next ten days to talk about next season but, with the current squad from the start of the season, I am very excited about our chances.”

Hastings boss Chris Agutter admits his side have not got the rewards for their successes over the last couple of seasons.

He said: “It has been an interesting situation for us over the last couple of seasons with both being null and voided with us being top of the league.

“With us being so successful over the late couple of years and when you are players so well some of our players have had the opportunity to go and play at a higher level.

“So we have lost a few players and teams have changed the way they play against us, but we have not got the promotions or rewards for our successes.

“The FA did mention about a possible restructuring in their statement so hopefully we could get promotion that way.”