After Thursday’s meeting of the National League’s Board, the FA and all the National League’s club Chairmen, the conclusion of the National League season is now becoming much clearer.
Wood Chairman Danny Hunter said, “The resolution and presentation put in front of us, perhaps gave us what we were expecting, with the Board recommending an outcome that aligned itself with the decisions already made at EFL 1 and 2 level, albeit with one huge surprise.
“As such, I expect Barrow, King’s Lynn Town and Wealdstone to be named as Champions on a points per game basis early next week and good luck to all of them.
“However, in the last few days it’s rumoured that the League and the FA have received further information from the government in regard to the interpretation of ‘elite sport’, that might change the resolution? Any amendments will need to be very clearly and transparently conveyed to all our member clubs prior to us having the final vote on how the season will conclude or it would look like a League cover up.
“Many of us will base very important decisions on what our League’s Chief Executive Michael Tattersall and League legal advisor Mel Stein conclude what ‘elite sport’ is defined as… As without clear League and FA direction, then voting at this time is wrong, as we have clubs’ futures in our hands.
“For me, unless the government directive is made specifically about Step 2 or its rewritten and made clearer, then the vote must be delayed in the name of fairness. Everyone knows that we as club Chairmen, only received the resolution and the presentation paperwork that contained the ‘elite sport’ directive and its effect at Step 2 approximately 30 minutes before the zoom meeting was held.
“For me and my conscience, that obviously threw up the only presentation surprise, and it was only at that moment that most of us were told the North and South Divisions (Step 2) were not recognised by government as being part of ‘elite sport.’
“That statement alone if verified, and it’s by no means clear, means there can be no play offs at Step 2, based solely on those government guidelines. And that was the basis of the League and FA’s presentation and it meant that a lot of the National League club’s concerns regarding relegation from Step 1 disappeared.
“So, I would now expect the resolution as presented to us on Thursday, to be amended and the final vote perhaps delayed? As at present our member clubs are still to receive the ordinary resolution or the amended resolution in order to vote, and they were expected on Friday.
“What does all this mean? Well, on Thursday and Friday, I expected both AFC Fylde and Ebbsfleet United to be reprieved with Chorley being relegated. Now due to this shambolic position we find ourselves in due to what appears to be our League and the FA not doing their homework in terms of ‘elite sport’, we must pause and take stock.
“All clubs find themselves in a situation where we are seemingly now totally dependent on the interpretation of the National League’s Board and FA, in regard to exactly what ‘elite sport’ is, as the government’s guidelines are clearly just general, not Step 2 specific, and were clearly not meant to be taken as a one hat fits all scenario.
“Whatever happens though, I’m sure the play offs at National League level (Step 1) will go ahead and, we will have FC Halifax Town here at Meadow Park in and around mid-July behind closed doors, with all play off games to be shown live on BT Sport.
“As such, we now have a lot of work to do, as we will need to work through a few issues with the participating play off clubs in regard to us all knowing what the competition rules might look like, with specific rules regarding loans and player registrations at the forefront of my thinking, but trust me whatever happens we’ll be more than ready to make our supporters and Town proud.
“Of course, as the smallest club in the play offs once again and with possibly the smallest squad, we’ll no doubt have to jump through a few hoops, as there will be the cost of testing, contact and non-contact training, social distancing, putting the squad back together, putting together say an 18-man squad, then there’s the new processes, procedures and protocols to implement…
“Whatever it takes though, we are where we are and it’s my job, with the help of my young Chief Exec, my Manager, our players and my incredible staff to get ourselves ready. Trust me we’ll get ourselves fit and trust me we’ll be prepared, ready and fully focused. Remember, we’ve lost just once in 19 league games and we’ve quietly believed all season that this is our time…” Hunter concluded.
Catch up on the Chairman Danny Hunter’s insightful interview from Friday evening by clicking here.