THE Southern and Western Leagues have reached a consensus with the Football Association (FA) to end the 2019/20 season with immediate effect, with no promotion or relegation to take place, owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

It means that Taunton Town will remain in Southern League Premier South (Step 3 of the National League System) next season, Bridgwater Town and Wellington in the Western League Premier Division (Step 5), and Bishops Lydeard in the Western League First Division (Step 6).

The statement on the FA website says: "Today’s 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 FA and National League System 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 [National League North/South].

"These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven [which includes the Somerset County League Premier Division].

"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."

A statement on the Southern League's website said that other options had been considered and rejected.

It said: "Consideration was given as to whether the season could be extended indefinitely, or to some later date in the future in order for it to be completed.

"However, given the current uncertainty regarding when it will be possible to resume competitive football in England, and the fact that many clubs and contracted players want certainty over when football will resume, this option is likely to present great difficulties for football between Steps 3 to 6.

"On the basis that the season is ended now, consideration was given as to whether a mechanism should be used to calculate final league tables and preserve promotion and relegation between Steps 3 to 6.

"While inevitably some clubs will favour this option and the merits of this option have been fully considered by The FA and the leagues, it has been decided that this is not the best option to serve the particular needs of Steps 3 to 6 of the NLS."

With tiers three to seven of the women's leagues also agreeing to terminate the 2019/20 season and expunge all results, it means that clubs in the South West Women's League (including Bishops Lydeard Ladies, Ilminster Town Ladies and Middlezoy Rovers Ladies) and Somerset County Women's League will remain in the same divisions.