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Wisbech Town squad will take advantage of extended time together

Wisbech Town manager Brett Whaley says the club will take advantage of the break from competitive football brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Whaley's Fenmen have just seen the Northern Premier League South East Division 'curtailed' after the previous season was declared null and void, but he thinks the time off league competition and the possibility of playing in a new division next season could be advantageous.

The former March Town and Yaxley boss has only managed 14 games in two Covid-affected seasons, but, once the FA have rubber-stamped the curtailing of the season for all Step3-6 clubs, will have from the end of March until August to get his team ready for the 2021/22 season.

Wisbech Town manager Brett Whaley.
Wisbech Town manager Brett Whaley.

Whaley told the Citizen: "What happened to the season was inevitable. The only question was, would we start next season in exactly the same division for the third time on the trot or would the FA restructure?

"They are now saying they will look at setting up a new division, which would be great for us."

The mooted new eighth Step 4 division, which has been in the pipeline for a couple of years, would run from Cambridge to Lincoln and mean it would be easier for Wisbech to attract players and easier for fans to attend away games, both because of shorter travelling distances involved.

The fact the season has been 'curtailed' rather than declared 'null and void' means results and league placings from the 2020/21 season could still stand in re-organising the Step 4 structure.

"I am really pleased they are looking at it. It doesn't mean we are suddenly going to win every week, but it means that we can attract more players and it means supporters can come to more away games. This is a community club and has always been well supported.

"But it is so hard for those fans to feel part of something when they can only get to 50% of the games. The club has been in that limbo of having long journeys up north for three years."

Whaley has had a disjointed tenure at the club, being in charge for more than a year and for parts of two seasons and yet has only managed the Fenmen for 14 games because of Covid-19. However, he said: "We did learn a lot from those games but the league does not lie. We did not get it right and we were going to be in a relegation battle.

"But we were improving, players were starting to adapt to the way we want to play, and from the end of March to the new season starting in August, we have four months to make sure we are ready to compete next season."

The Wisbech boss said he will be asking all of last season's squad back to the club and he hopes to train and play some behind-closed-doors friendlies during April and May before breaking off and then starting again in the summer for a normal pre-season.

"Those two months will be invaluable in gelling the squad together and getting our message across of how we want to play. Football just did not feel right this season, but hopefully, come August, we will all be able to enjoy it again."

With the Peterborough League likely to resume either as a league or some cup competitions, Whaley said a couple of players may turn out for the reserves if they are able to continue their Division Two promotion challenge, although he said it would be insulting to that group to suggest they needed help after they had enjoyed a fine season so far.

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