REPORT: National League Clarity Expected Soon

National League clubs are currently voting upon on season-ending proposals. With promotion and relegation in the balance, several clubs are nervously awaiting their fate.

Last week, English Football League (EFL) clubs finally found a way to solve their COVID-19 affected 2019/20 season. This has led to League’s One and Two terminating early, under a points-per-game (PPG) calculation.

Now, the clubs who aspire to join the EFL, are voting on how to finalise their season. Already, they have agreed to abandon resuming a full league fixture schedule.

National League Clarity Expected Soon

Below Step Six Declared Null and Void

Despite complaints, football below the National League levels is declared null and void for the 2019/20 season. South Shields FC, who were on course to win promotion to the National League North, led the complaints. Legal action was considered, but last week, their case was dismissed.

This means that the outcome of the fifth tier vote will be final, despite arguments among the clubs persisting.

National League Proposal Similarities

The following similarities exist among the various proposals:

PPG to be used to calculate final positioning.

As a result, Barrow FC, leaders of the National League, gain promotion to the EFL. Playoffs take place to determine the second promoted team to the EFL.

Promotion occurs from the the North and South divisions. While relegation from National Leagues North and South is scrapped.

Differences

Proposal 1:

One team only relegated from the National League, as opposed to the usual four. The two teams deemed winners of the North and South divisions, under PPG, gain promotion to the fifth tier. The vacant place arises from Bury FC’s expulsion from the EFL.

Proposal 2:

Four cubs are relegated from the National League. They are replaced by the leaders of the North and South divisions, plus either the second-placed teams or play-off winners of the respective divisions.

Sadly, whilst many clubs are unaffected by either proposal, there are losers. Among these are:

Chorley FC

If Proposal 1 wins the vote, then Chorley FC will become the only non-league club relegated this season. Understandably, the Lancashire club, who are bottom of the fifth tier, are unhappy.

Jamie Vermiglio, the manager of Chorley, calls the proposal an “injustice”. Speaking to the official Chorley FC website, Vermiglio said: “What we are asking for is fairness across non-league and hope the National League can see the relegation element of their proposal lacks integrity.

“The views of the vast majority of the football family should count for something, and we are hopeful they will.”

York City FC

York City are the current leaders of the National League North by two points. However, second-placed Kings Lynn Town had two games in hand over York when the season was suspended. Under PPG, Kings Lynn will move above York, thereby gaining promotion instead.

Steve Watson, who is the manager of York City, feels that his side also deserve promotion. Watson, speaking to the Yorkshire Post, said: “I don’t think anybody in football, whether it be rivals of ours or teams in the league above would disagree with the fact that the team who are sitting at the top (before PPG) should go up.”

For this reason, York City favours passing Proposal 2. They would win promotion, as prior to yesterday, both proposals scrapped the North and South playoffs for financial reasons. A decision justified, as the National Leagues North and South are not considered “elite sport” by the Government. 

Havant and Waterlooville 

Havant are second to Wealdstone in the National League South. PPG will not alter this standing. However, Havant feel they deserve a chance to win their divisional playoffs, at least. To do this, they have to persuade the Government that their league has “elite sport” classification.

This caused Alan Mak, the MP for Havant, to intervene. Mak says: “Elite athlete means a person who is an individual who derives a living from competing in a sport.

“If HWFC and the National League agree that HWFC’s players meet this definition, the government is not intending to prevent National League South play-offs from taking place or HWFC from taking part.”

This has caused the National League to remove the vote on the scraping the six-tier play-offs, for now.

AFC Fylde, Maidenhead United and Ebbsfleet United

If four teams are promoted, then these are the additional three clubs who will lose their fifth-tier status. Chorley will still suffer relegation, joining AFC Fylde in the National League North. Meanwhile, Maidenhead United and Ebbsfleet United would drop into the National League South.

All National League clubs have a vote, with the North and South divisions having four votes each. To pass a decision, it requires a majority of 51%, followed by ratification from the FA Council.

The National League could also consider declaring the 2019/20 season as null and void, should no decision be passed. This would apply across its three divisions.

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