National League South and North clubs who voted to carry on playing have written to the league asking if they can play on.The National League resolution vote saw the 2020/21 campaign declared null and void at Step 2 level – for clubs in National League South and North – on Thursday with the top flight voting to carry on playing.Dartford in action against Ebbsfleet United earlier this season in National League South. Picture: Dave BuddenAs a result, 18 of the 19 Step 2 clubs who voted to finish the season have written to the league’s interim general manager Mark Ives asking if they can finish their season, even if they have to merge into one division to create a viable competition.The clubs include Dartford, Ebbsfleet United and Welling United along with nine other National League South teams. There are six sides from National League North who have put their names to the open letter.The letter to Ives says: “We feel the options presented in the resolutions did not provide an alternative solution to a Null and Void scenario and the result of Resolution 3 was very closely divided with a very small majority determining that the season will be ended with immediate effect. However, as a league of members (66 clubs) the vote delivered a majority result in favour of continuing the season albeit you chose to adopt the four votes each rule for NLN and NLS as opposed to one each for the NL.
“We believe that the 19 clubs at Step 2 that wish to continue, should be afforded an opportunity to do so, with play-offs and promotion, as per normal.”We believe the following reasons support the resumption of the 2020-21 National League North and South seasons:”Our feedback and experiences week to week leave us in little doubt that the majority of our communities and supporter base are under extreme strain within the current lockdown conditions. Looking forward to better times and more normality is a large part of keeping people positive. We believe that a Null and Void scenario would negatively impact the mental health of our supporters and communities.”Our supporters, season ticket holders and commercial partners have demonstrated a huge amount of goodwill and faith by retaining their season tickets and accepting that their interaction with their club will be remotely and digitally rather than what they signed up for and attending matches. A Null and Void season would require either substantial refunds or carrying over the commercial and ticketing revenue into next season. This would have a huge impact on future commercial revenues.
“With the outcome of the vote being Null and Void in Step 2, the ability to have promotion and relegation between Steps 1 and 2 is lost. Promotion and Relegation within the National League system is a fundamental value which the league has worked hard for over the years and which was the motivating driver in reaching a sporting conclusion to last season. We feel it important for our relationship with the EFL that both promotion and relegation be retained at Step 1 and Step 2.”Last year, although the clubs voted to curtail the season, the play-offs and automatic promotion places were sanctioned, and we believe a similar approach should be adopted this season to maintain the integrity of the overall competition.We respectfully request that the league strongly consider that the two divisions at Step 2 continue playing their seasons, either separately or as one”All clubs have accepted financial support from the National Lottery for the months of October, November and December and also FA grant funding in order to prepare and proceed with league matches behind closed doors. Those conditions remain and we feel we have an obligation to proceed and complete the season having already accepted that funding.”We have all invested considerable sums, by entering into contracts and taking on liabilities on the basis the season would progress to a full conclusion whether behind closed doors or not. How are we expected to now reconcile this investment and commitment? Numerous clubs are entering dialogue with Sport England regarding grant and loan funding to continue operating and are exploring every option to fulfil this season.
“In summary, we respectfully request that the league strongly consider that the two divisions at Step 2 continue playing their seasons, either separately or as one.”We believe that this is in the best interests of all National League members allowing the league to cater to the needs and drivers of all clubs in a sympathetic manner, allowing those who wish to continue to do so, and those who cannot or do not wish to continue to end their season.”Promotion and relegation can be maintained between the National League and National League North and South in order to recover a full National League of 24 clubs next season, as well as maintaining the integrity of our relationship with the EFL.”
The clubs who signed the letter are: AFC Fylde, Gloucester City, Boston United, Havant & Waterlooville, Chelmsford City, Hemel Hempstead Town, Chorley, Hungerford Town, Concord Rangers, Kidderminster Harriers, Dartford, Oxford City, Dorking Wanderers, St Albans City, Eastbourne Borough, Welling United, Ebbsfleet United, York City.Earlier on Friday, National League Dover – the one team currently refusing to play – announced that they had been charged by the National League for pulling out of matches against Sutton and King’s Lynn this week.Read more: All the latest sports news in KentAll Kent SportDartford FootballDover FootballEbbsfleet FootballFootballMaidstone UnitedNon LeagueSport FootballTonbridge AngelsWelling Football KentOnline reporter