LUDLOW and Church Stretton both saw their promotion dreams dashed by last week’s expungement of the grassroots football campaign – and each fears next season could be just as meaningless.

Not only has the Football Association declared the season – at all levels below the National League – null and void, it has also postponed this summer’s planned divisional restructure until next year.

That means Ludlow and Stretton will remain in West Midlands Division Two next term but with that league likely to be dissolved in the restructure, there is no real carrot of promotion to play for.

Both sides had been expected to resign from the West Midlands League to join a revamped Shropshire League – but that must now wait another 12 months.

“Motivation is going to be a little bit harder to find next season,” admitted Stretton boss Scott Peever. “It’s a very strange situation and everyone is in limbo.

“It’s hard to look forward at the minute – until we have something, an ‘X’ date so to speak, to aim for, you can’t really plan, it’s hard to do much.”

Ludlow boss Chris Waldron went further with his distaste for the restructure delay, fuming: “It’s a stupid decision. We are not happy about it at all. But we have no choice other than to stay now.”

Both sides were level on points, chasing the runners-up spot behind champions-elect AFC Bentley, with Ludlow enjoying a game in hand but also still to face Stretton.

Nonetheless, both backed the decision to end the season, with Waldron saying: “It’s obviously gutting as we were on course for second place and still in two cups, into the semi-finals of both.

“But people’s health comes first. I do think they should have finished the season somehow, though, whether that be on a points per game basis or whatever.”

Peever added: “We wanted the opportunity to get to a cup final but it makes sense to end the season because it’s an indefinite period that we won’t be playing for and it gives people closure.”

Wayne Whitbread’s Clee Hill United, top of the Herefordshire Premier, were denied the chance to retain their title but he said ending the season was ‘the sensible thing to do’.

He added: “It’s a shame because the title race was brewing up to be really interesting and anything could have happened. But I think it was the correct decision.

“Our league was still up in the air. It’s the teams that are so far clear and who weren’t going to be caught that I feel sorry for."