From a Havant & Waterlooville FC perspective, there are a number of comments we would like to bring to the National League Board to consider in their discussions about the current season’s (19-20) conclusion, as a result of the coronavirus lock-down.
- We believe that the conclusion of National League season is difficult without knowing the approach that the English Football League (EFL) will take. Similarly, the EFL probably need to know what the Premiership intend to do.
- Whatever the outcome we must remember that there are only 23 teams in League 1 due to the loss of Bury FC. That means in order to have a balanced season in 2020-21 at least one team needs to be promoted into league 2, from the National League.
- There are also other issues with clubs who have had financial problems with salaries before the Covid-19 lock-down. This can only get worse in the current circumstances. And we must not have a repeat of the Bury fiasco.
- Therefore, the spaces in the EFL are not certain at the present time but as a business they will want to have a full season of matches and the associated income with a full league of 24 teams. We believe that there should be promotion from the National League to support the EFL (and our clubs).
- HWFC firmly disagree that a null and void outcome should be adopted. That may have been different if the lock-down had occurred before Christmas but with 80% of the season concluded, points per game can be the only correct outcome, if the season cannot continue.
- If a null and void season is the decision, then all the games will no longer be on the record. Clubs may then need to decide how they handle goal bonuses, clean sheet bonuses already paid for games that cease to exist. This could result in legal argument.
- Depending upon when the season recommences will decide if play-offs are appropriate. We feel that most clubs would agree that a straight promotion and relegation without play-offs would help to conclude the season in the timeliest fashion.
- In order to make decisions about contracts there is a need to conclude the season. If the season recommenced in the summer or the autumn, many clubs will have few contracted players and the results of these games played at this time may well be abnormal, with some clubs having very weakened teams. This may adversely affect league position at the end of the season. It is fairer to take the points per game approach we believe.
- In these difficult and unique times, the Board should allow the National League clubs a democratic vote on the decision on the outcome of the season. In other words, all 68 clubs should have an equal vote on the decision about concluding the league. It does not feel democratic for the North & South only to have 8 votes in total.
- If the National League pays next season’s Premiership monies early, to the clubs as they are currently positioned, it will cause problems with promoted or relegated clubs later on. If Barrow are promoted do they pay the money back? If Barrow are promoted do we have a 23-club National League Premier division or will there then be financial rearrangements for the clubs who were paid the wrong monies?
- We believe that these payments should be shared equally between all 68 clubs if they are paid early. All 68 clubs in the National League are all in financial difficulties during this lock-down and this payment should be looked upon as a hardship payment. And this option avoids the difficulties of having to redistribute some of the monies later.
- The National League Board should also consider what the effect will be next season if there are no further payments to come and make representation to the Premiership for extra help that we will require. The health of their League does depend upon the health of the feeder leagues after all.
- Finish the season now and adjust the tables on points per game. There will be no play-offs
- Wait for the EFL decision before making decisions about promotion and relegation.
- Be careful about Premiership money distribution because of issues with later redistribution
- Consider an equal distribution of all this money to all the 68 clubs.
- Pressure the Premiership for help, not just an advancement of next season’s monies.
Derek Pope – Chairman HWFC
Tim Mellor – Vice-Chairman HWFC