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Walkovers make big difference to Premier Division title race
owling chairman Chris Jones has spoken of his frustration after his Craven League Premier Division title chasers were awarded walkovers in their final two games of the season.
Although they were given the points for the home games with Clitheroe and Rolls to finish level on points with champions Skipton LMS, they had no chance to close the 13 goal difference between the sides.
Clitheroe also gave a walkover to LMS earlier in the season.
“I don’t want people to think this is sour grapes because I will be the first to congratulate LMS on their success, but it devalues the competition when important games are not played” said Jones.
“We may not have scored the goals we needed but we would have liked the chance to have tried because our lads have put in a lot of hard work over the season.
“Sadly the league arranges the fixtures but has no sanction to force them to be played.
“Rolls, who we were due to play last Tuesday, played a League Cup final two days later. We were asked to go along to collect our runners up trophy at the game, but politely declined the league’s invitation.”
Ironically, Rolls would have pipped Cowling for second place if they had played and won.
Craven League chairman Gerry Aldersley said: “The FA rules are clear that we can only award the points when teams don’t play. We cannot award goals.
“The league officials have worked hard to arrange the fixtures, and find themselves being criticised when they aren’t played.”
Cowling believe that greater effort should be put into getting league fixtures played and advocate an earlier start to the season to avoid a backlog which inevitably leads to problematic midweek games.
“We started on September 10 this season while other leagues were playing much earlier. Getting in some league games or early rounds of the cups out of the way when the weather is better might help,” added Jones.
The Craven League reduced the number of teams in each division to 11 two seasons ago to try and avoid a fixture backlog.
Aldersley added: “We get big complications with teams playing in county cups. Sometimes they don’t inform us until the last minute that they have a cup tie that takes priority over league fixtures.
“That then means that some clubs are left without league games. We need better communication from clubs involved in county cups. Sometimes we aren’t even informed of the results.”