Stourbridge and Halesowen matches postponed as Southern League suspends fixtures

Stourbridge FC and Halesowen Town have had football matches postponed after the Southern League decided to suspend all football activity for a week, while all other local leagues are set to go ahead.

The Southern League's suspension, due to the Covid-19 coronavirus, will last up to and including Saturday 21st March.

It means Stourbridge's Central Premier Division matches away to Tamworth (Saturday 14th March), at home to Royston on Monday and at home to Needham Market a week tomorrow are all off.

Halesowen's Division One Central fixtures at home to Didcot, and away at Welwyn Garden City on Tuesday will also be re-arranged, though it is not yet known whether their match on Saturday 21st March will go ahead, as they are due to play in their historic FA Trophy semi-final with Concord Rangers.

The Southern League's decision to suspend all football will have no impact on the FA Trophy and it remains to be seen if the Football Association will elect to follow suit and postpone the tie.

In a statement, the league said: "Further to discussions this afternoon, a decision has been taken that ALL BetVictor Southern League matches will be postponed between Saturday 14th and Saturday 21st March inclusive.

"Therefore, there will be no matches taking place (on Saturday), next midweek or Saturday 21st March.

"A review of the situation will take place next Friday 20th March and everyone will be notified of the decision as soon as possible regarding the continuation or otherwise of the competition from Monday 23rd March.

"In respect to the end of season date, that currently remains as Saturday 25th April but there will be updates on this website should there be any changes to that."

The league's decision comes after a swathe of sporting events around the world were postponed, and comes hours after the Premier League and Football League decided to suspend all matches until 3rd April.

But the Southern League's regional counterpart, the Northern League - which both Stourbridge and Halesowen used to be a part of - have announced that their clubs' fixtures will continue as normal.

Elsewhere, the National League has confirmed its fixtures are going ahead but, on Saturday morning, Kidderminster Harriers announced that their fixture at Leamington in National League North has been postponed.

The league had said it would "keep the operation of its competition under constant and diligent review, and will remain in compliance with government advice at all times".

The decision was met with dismay by some of its member clubs.

Local football associations, including the Birmingham County FA, have said decisions as to whether to proceed with matches are a matter for each league to take. Other leagues have now taken decisions, with all other matches involving local sides going ahead.

The Midland Football League, which includes Lye and Tividale, said earlier it was "discussing how to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic with representatives of the other leagues within the National League System. We are expecting to have a further update later this afternoon".

It finally confirmed that all this weekend's fixtures will be played in a statement released at around 18:30, but said it would reassess the situation next week, saying: "The MFL’s board has decided that all matches will go ahead this weekend, with future fixtures being reviewed on Monday 16th March."

But it has since been announced that Tividale’s match at home to Heather St. John’s has been postponed.

Other matches in the division between Sporting Khalsa and Walsall Wood, RC Warwick and Worcester, as well as Romulus against Highgate United, will not be going ahead.

The West Midlands Regional League (WMRL), in which Dudley Town, Dudley Sports, Cradley Town and Black Country Rangers all play, issued a statement at around 18:15 on Friday, saying they would proceed as normal, while also reviewing the situation next week.

The WMRL said: "Following consideration of FA advice the league feel that tomorrow’s fixtures should not be subject to blanket postponement and therefore ALL matches should go ahead as planned. The league will continue to monitor the advice given and will review the situation on Monday 16 March".

However, around two hours later, Dudley Town announced that its fixture at home to Bridgnorth tomorrow will not be going ahead.

The club said: "After careful consideration and consultation with both our landlord, the WMRL and our own Club Directors, we have taken the decision to postpone tomorrow’s home game against AFC Bridgnorth.

"This decision has not been taken lightly but it is taken in the interest of all our Club officials, management, coaches, players and supporters. We hope to make a further announcement in due course."

Rugby matches involving National League Two North side Stourbridge and Midlands Division One West club Dudley Kingswinford look set to go ahead as planned.

In a statement posted on its website, the National League said: "As things stand, rugby in tiers three and four of the English game are continuing", while Dudley Kingswinford and the league's organisers, NCA National League Rugby, both cited advice from the RFU on their websites saying that matches would proceed as planned.

Two other sides in Midlands Division sides, Old Halesonians and Stourbridge Lions, did not have games scheduled for this weekend.


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