BOOTROOM BOYS: Bruno Porfirio and Neal Lattimore have been welcomed into Spalding United’s backroom staff.

New faces at Tulips as plans for 21/22 step up

With the news that the 20/21 season has been officially ended, Spalding United are preparing for next season and the prospect of a host of different opponents.

The FA has officially ratified the decision to null and void the Tulips’ Pitching-In Northern Premier Division season, the second time in a row that COVID-19 has led to that happening.

And the governing body has also agreed to look at a potential restructure of the leagues from step three to seven of the non-league pyramid.

The long mooted move has officially been on hold since the 19/20 season.

It’s unlikely Spalding will be demoted or promoted from their current Step Four level.

But they could face new teams and the club will hope that there will be a reduction in travelling times too.

A spokesman for the club said: “We wait with anticipation on new season dates and a potential league restructure which would be a welcome bit of good news.”

The Tulips are already making plans for next season after announcing two new faces for manager Gabriel Zakuani’s backroom team for the 21/22 season.

Bruno Porfirio has been named as the club’s new first team coach and there’s a new fitness coach in Neal Lattimore.

Portuguese Porfirio is also a coach at Peterborough United and joins while completing his UEFA A Licence coaching qualification.

Bruno said: “This is an excellent opportunity for myself to work with Gaby and the rest of the staff in a very exciting and ambitious project.

“I am honoured to be part of this journey and to help take the club to the next level.”

Zakuani’s Posh connections are also the reason behind Lattimore coming in.

The former first team sports scientist at Peterborough is now the director of performance coaching company Active Performance UK.

Zakuani said of the appointments: “I’m absolutely delighted to get Bruno on board.

“I love his passion, enthusiasm and extensive knowledge of the game.

“I feel he’s the right man to be part of the team that will help me push the club into the right direction.

“Neal is someone I’ve known for a long time.

“I felt at my fittest when he was at Peterborough United so I know what he’s bringing to the table.

“His attention to detail is second to none. It’s another excellent addition to the management team.”

Spalding United are also recruiting a new kit manager.

Any applicants are urged to contact

The Tulips’ 20/21 campaign only lasted eight league games, but it’s certainly been eventful.

Just before the season started, the takeover by Andrew Killingsworth was announced alongside big plans for the future of the club.

The Tulips started the campaign with a 3-1 defeat to Barton Town Old Boys in the FA Cup, but they bounced back well to win their opening two fixtures 3-0 at home to Sutton Coldfield and 2-0 over Carlton Town.

That though was their last win to date and they lost their next six in all competitions, a run that led to the departure of Lewis Thorogood as manager.

Former Peterborough United defender Zakuani was the surprise choice to replace him, though he’s had just two games, one as caretaker, in charge of the side.

His one permanent game on October 31 saw former Newcastle United striker Nile Ranger net in a 3-3 draw at Belper, but the league was suspended days later.

The statement on the FA with regards the league situation states: “Our alliance and leagues committees have now considered the large amount of data and information submitted by clubs across the National League System (NLS) Steps 3-6 as part of a survey to gather views on the continuation or conclusion of the 2020-21 league season, in addition to the information set out in the Government’s roadmap this week.

“Submissions were made by 99.1 per cent of clubs at Steps 3 and 4, and 95.8 per cent of clubs at Steps 5 and 6.

“We would like to thank the clubs for submitting their views and the time taken in providing responses during what we appreciate is an incredibly challenging period for everyone.

“The results of the survey showed that over 76 per cent of all clubs across Steps 3-6 indicated a preference to curtail the 2020-21 league season if it could not be restarted with limited spectator numbers and hospitality before April 1, 2021. During this process, taking into account views of clubs and leagues, it was decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option.

“This was due to various considerations, including the financial implications for many clubs, player contracts and the extent of the fixture scheduling issues caused by the national lockdown and various postponements which had resulted in there being 81 per cent of matches left to complete for Steps 3 and 4, and 75 per cent at Steps 5 and 6.

“Taking into account the survey results and the ongoing impact of COVID-19, which continues to adversely affect incomes for clubs due to restrictions on both spectators and hospitality, our alliance and leagues committees have reached a consensus that the 2020-21 league season for Steps 3-6 of the NLS should be curtailed with immediate effect, with no further league matches taking place this season.

“It has also been decided that both committees will revisit discussions around a potential restructure at Steps 4-6 of the NLS, which was previously agreed and has been on hold since the 2019-20 season.

“A further update on this will be provided in due course.”

Media reports claim the make up of the new divisions is unlikely to be ratified until May.

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