The National League may be canceled this week
What is the problem?
The problem stems from the decision by Michael Tattersall, the former CEO of the National League, to start the season on October 3 without fans. It was a reversal of the original policy that the 2020-21 season would only take place with fans on the pitch.
Gates revenue made up the vast majority of National League clubs’ income and although some fans were briefly allowed to return for games between the second and third domestic blocks, that was never going to be enough to bridge the gap.
At the end of October, the government announced that it would provide funding of £ 10million, which the National League could split between the clubs. But that money would only last a few months.
How important are financial problems?
There has been a bitter controversy over how the £ 10million grant was distributed. The National League devised a system whereby Step 1 clubs would receive £ 95,000 or £ 84,000 while Step 2 clubs would receive £ 36,000 or £ 30,000.
This sparked a furious backlash from the better-supported clubs who had lost far more than that in door revenue.
There have been calls for Brian Barwick to resign and former FA Chairman David Bernstein wrote an independent report on the process that has never been released. National League CEO Michael Tattersall has resigned.
But the National League was waiting for another tranche of government grants, and clubs were devastated this week to learn that DCMS now intends to give them loans rather than grants.
With clubs having no wicket income during the third nationwide lockdown, many cannot afford to gamble on a simple loan. That is why they are desperately waiting for a government turnaround.
What support would the end of the season have?
There is a lot of support to end the season from clubs in the South and North of the National League.
These are clubs that have received much less fall grant money, regardless of their level of support, and simply cannot afford to continue playing.
12 Northern National League clubs have written to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden asking for grants rather than loans.
A well-placed source said he expects “three-quarters” of this league to support the league’s cancellation, with similar positions expected in the Southern National League.
“The vast majority of clubs will not continue as is unless subsidies are provided,” a source said. “We’re definitely not going to take hundreds of thousands of pounds in debt to end the season.”
Does this apply to the entire structure of the National League?
The National League’s picture is less clear, with some sources expecting there to be more support for playing even if there is no government turnaround on subsidies.
But a National League source said there was a sense of betrayal starting the season assuming they would either have fans or government support, and now they are faced with the prospect of n ‘have neither.
“We all did what we were told to do,” he said. “He’s the killer. We did not put ourselves in that position.
What could happen in the next few days?
The National League is due to hold a board meeting on Tuesday noon, followed by a key Zoom meeting with the 67 clubs which will take place on Wednesday morning.
This is when clubs expect to be told there is no more money, and clubs will make their feelings known about the rest of the season after that.
Some clubs don’t expect to play this weekend.
What did the DCMS say?
A spokesperson for DCMS said Athleticism: “Last year we negotiated a unique deal between the National Lottery and the National League to provide an injection of £ 10million to these much-loved clubs. Since then we have announced an additional investment of £ 300million to protect the immediate future of spectacle sports, including an additional £ 11million for National League clubs to help them finish the season.
“It is incorrect to suggest that the funding has already been pledged in the form of grants. Affected clubs will be assessed for support on the same criteria as other professional clubs. “