South West Peninsula League secretary Phil Hiscox has said that the 2020/21 season now "cannot finish in its traditional" way.

In a blog post on the league website posted on Tuesday morning, Hiscox admitted that the season can not now be completed in the traditional manner i.e. a full set of league fixtures, after sport was suspended as England began a third national lockdown on Tuesday.

The South West Peninsula League had initially suspended all fixtures last week after Cornwall and Devon both moved into Tier 3 of coronavirus restrictions on New Year's Eve.

While organised football is allowed to be played in Tier 3 areas, there are several restrictions that the SWPL’s board of directors said are “impractical to fully comply without professional, trained staff” in its latest statement.

Rapidly rising cases of Covid-19 had seen both counties move into the second highest tier of restrictions in England, and the SWPL had decided to act in suspending all of its matches up until January 15.

But with Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing, in an address to the nation, on Monday night that England was to move into another full national lockdown immediately, all fixtures have now been suspended indefinitely.

The SWPL board of directors’ statement, posted after Cornwall and Devon moved into Tier 3 but before Monday's lockdown announcement, read: “Whilst outdoor team sports are only banned under Tier 4, the restrictions on holding such matches in Tier 3 are such that it places a burden on club officials, volunteers and supporters to the extent that it is impractical to fully comply without professional, trained staff, to ensure the law is complied with.

“Further, it is financially draining to incur the costs of staging matches without the normal income streams, which the restrictions mean are largely turned off.”

This suspension is yet another disruption to fixtures in the 2020/21 season and it has intensified fears as to whether the season can realistically be completed.

The season started a month later than usual in September before being paused for a month during the second national lockdown in November. The lifting of restrictions in December was then blighted by weather-related postponements, with only 19 matches being played in the SWPL Premier West before play was suspended again last week, with no more matches to be played now until at the least the middle of February.

The league season normally ends on the final weekend of April but can be extended to the end of May, although there is a growing feeling that the season would need to be extended much further if it is to complete the season in its standard format.

Helston Athletic have played just ten league games since the start of the season in September, meaning the Blues would have 28 more games to play by the end of May despite having no idea when matches may be allowed to resume.

The lockdown will be reviewed in mid-February, but even if restrictions are lifted then it could be a longer wait for matches to resume.

In his blog post, Hiscox said: "The reality is therefore that the season cannot finish in its traditional [way] and – yes I will say it – under the agreed league rules. People can talk about PPG [points per game], playing each other once, mathematical formulas etc etc – but no team will actually win a league on the historically established system that has been used since the 1880s."

In its statement at the weekend, the SWPL’s board of directors said it does “not support extending this season beyond May and believe next season should start on time”.

Explaining its stance, the board says it believes club, staff, players and grounds “deserve a normal summer to recharge batteries”.

It also says that several clubs are opposed to extending the season past May due to seasonal employment in the tourism and agriculture industries, and due to grounds/people being committed to other sports such as cricket.

The statement read: “The league board in consultation with the FA and other NLS leagues will actively participate in discussions about how the season may be concluded, but equally it is only right to state that every week of missed fixtures will mean this becomes impractical. As a league we do not support extending this season beyond May and believe next season should start on time.

“We also believe club staff, players, grounds deserve a normal summer to recharge batteries.”

The statement concluded by saying: “The league feel we have tried our very best to get the 2020/21 season up and running in line with the restrictions and pressures imposed.

“We thank all clubs for their huge efforts, for a while in September and October we were catching games up and making remarkable progress, indeed at the turn of the year we are still the league with the highest percentage of games played in the entire national league system.

“However the November lockdown, the increasing number of postponements due to either Covid cases or Covid restrictions and the inevitable affect of the weather on our exposed peninsula has taken its toll.

“We have all given it our best shot and we can hold our heads up high, but for the time being we all have to accept that playing football means nothing if it risks the health, well being or even the lives of any member of our community. Because of that alone, the league board asks all to accept the reasons for this decision to suspend the league with immediate affect [sic].”