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Clubs torn over fate of National League season

Justin Donawa’s Solihull Moors and Milan Butterfield’s Chesterfield are among the clubs who have voted in favour of continuing the Vanarama National League season amid continued uncertainty.

Earlier this month all 66 of the National League’s member clubs which also includes fellow Bermudians Jonté Smith’s Woking in the National League as well as Dale Eve’s Spennymoor Town and Knory Scott and Keziah Martin’s Kidderminster Harriers in the North division, were given the opportunity to vote on their preferred option on how to resolve the present campaigns.

After a meeting with the Football Association and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, each club has the option of four resolutions which revolve around whether or not to carry on with the campaigns or end the season now with no relegation and promotion.

Resolution one is for clubs to decide their fate based on their own division, resolution two is for National League clubs only to decide whether they want the season to continue.

Resolution three is the same for National League North and South clubs while resolution four is for all clubs across the three divisions should resolution one fail.

Resolutions one and four require a 75 per cent majority to pass while resolutions two and three require 50 per cent, which would be 12 votes in the case of the National League.

While all clubs have 28 days to return voting submissions under the National League’s Articles of Association, some have already come out publicly with their views on how they have voted or intend to do so.

That includes Donawa’s Solihull Moors with chairman Darryl Eales recently publicly stating: "From a Moors perspective, we are fortunate to have a broad shareholder base committed to funding the club over the long term. On this basis, our position is to keep the season going and ensure, above all, that there is promotion to League Two.“

Despite having to furlough a number of their first-team squad owing to financial uncertainty, Butterfield’s Chesterfield are also in favour of concluding the season.

“We are in favour of the season continuing and we will vote for that. A small group of players who do not feature in the manager’s plans have now been placed on furlough,” said the club’s chief executive, John Croot.

While some clubs in the National League are in favour of the continuation of the season, others in contrast are not under the current arrangements including the likes of Dover Athletic, Weymouth and King’s Lynn Town.

The continuation of the season has been in grave doubt since the turn of the year after a dispute over funding to the league’s clubs.

The row escalated at the end of last month after the National League's £10 million share of the British Government’s winter survival package reached its three-month expiry, with clubs given the choice of accessing individual loans, sharing a central loan or suspending the campaign altogether.

The decision to make any future funding in the form of loans rather than grants angered many clubs across the National League’s three divisions, leaving the continuation of the North and South divisions, in particular, uncertain.

Only a handful of clubs had been able to let supporters into their grounds at any point during the season and, after the surge in coronavirus cases, all games have been without crowds.

Gate receipts make up the vast majority of revenue for National League clubs and so many are reluctant to take on the financial burden without the support of grants.

The National League has not completely given up hope that the Government might reverse its decision and offer grants instead of loans.

Last week it launched a petition pushing its case, with more than 8,000 people already signing up in support.

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Published February 11, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 10, 2021 at 11:54 pm)

Clubs torn over fate of National League season

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