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12 National League North clubs’ damning statement at DCMS and FA

12 National League North clubs have decided to issue a joint damning statement aimed at the DCMS and the FA over financial support.

They have come together to call on the DCMS and The FA ‘not to betray the trust’ of clubs who agreed to commence the current season on the understanding that grants would be provided to replace essential lost revenue.

A joint-statement reads: When National League clubs agreed in October to start the season playing behind closed doors, this decision was based on reassurances that grants would be provided to compensate for essential revenue lost from fans not returning on 1st October.

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Had these assurances not been provided then many Clubs at our level may have taken the decision not to commence the season.

Matchday revenue from supporters attending games and its associated income streams are the lifeblood for our clubs. We are grateful to the Government, The FA, and the National Lottery for recognising this and the roles our clubs play in their communities. We thank them for the grant support we have received to date.

The initial package of £10m was to cover the first three months of the season with the clear understanding that grants would continue until it was safe for crowds to return. There was absolutely no mention of loans at that time.

We have all worked diligently to comply with elite sport protocols and ensure a prudent approach to financial management based upon the reassurances given in October.

We the undersigned clubs therefore call on the Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport and The FA not to betray the trust National League clubs placed in them by agreeing to commence the season and to ensure the additional £11m in support is in the form of grants not loans.

Alfreton Town – Wayne Bradley

Blyth Spartans – Anthony Platten

Brackley Town – Francis Oliver

Bradford (Park Avenue) – Martin Knight

Chester – Andrew Morris

Darlington – David Johnston

Farsley Celtic – Joshua Greaves

Gloucester City – Alex Petheram

Kettering Town – David Mahoney

Kidderminster Harriers – Neil Male

Southport – Ian Kyle

Spennymoor Town – Tony Wilson

– The end of the 12 National League North clubs’ damning statement at DCMS and FA –

It comes as a certain National League South club have been left in a ‘very worrying’ situation as they enter yet another tough period within a year.

Havant & Waterlooville, along with the 65 other clubs in the fifth and sixth tiers of English football, have no idea as to how much financial aid they are set to receive this month – or even when they are to get it.

They were given £30,000 a month of National Lottery money in October, November and December, but now Sport England are overseeing the aid as part of the Government’s Sport Winter Survival Package announced in mid-November according to The News.

Clubs don’t know how much they are to receive, but also haven’t a clue as to whether aid will be in the form of grants or loans.

Hawks boss Paul Doswell spoke with The News this week, saying that it is likely clubs at their level will refuse to play matches if only loans were offered.

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The director, Trevor Brock, revealed that the situation is becoming ‘very worrying: ‘We normally pay the players in the third week of the month and we have no idea what money we’re going to receive.

‘I would say there’s a 99.9 per cent chance we would turn down a loan.

‘There’s not many clubs at our level that could survive without any sort of external funding.

‘The Westleigh pub is shut and a lot of businesses that help support the club are also currently closed down.’

It was only in October that the 2020/21 National League season got underway, and by this point there was an expectation of fans being able to return to stadiums even at a limited capacity.

Clubs agreed to start playing on the basis they would get at least six months’ worth of Government funding.

‘There was also an inference it would go on after that,’ said Brock.

Havant & Waterlooville’s league campaign should go on until Saturday the 29th of May – with the playoffs extending the season into mid-June.

In a letter from general manager Mark Ives, he admitted the league would be pressing for the cash in grant form.

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‘We have received confirmation previously that we will have a further £11m to distribute from DCMS,’ he wrote. ‘However, whilst we are satisfied we will have this level of funding, we have not been advised as of yet the conditions attached to that funding.

‘There have been some suggestions circulated that the £11m will be given on a loan basis as opposed to the original funding being grant/donation/sponsorship .

The league want to ensure the sustainability of many clubs and want this funding issued on the basis of grants and not loans, otherwise it may cause further financial pressures on clubs at a time when the financial burden is at its highest.

‘The League … will be doing all we can, in seeking the support of the Football Association to secure the funding as grants if possible.

‘Additionally, we are considering the most ideal distribution model that considers the lessons learnt over the previous three months and ensures the right level of support to those clubs, no matter in which division they play.’

Under the previous model, Chesterfield, Hartlepool, Notts County, Stockport, Torquay, Wrexham and Yeovil received n amount of £95,000 a month from October-December inclusive (total £1.995m).

The remaining 16 top flight clubs received £84,000 per month (total £4.032m).

In total, the 23 top flight clubs banked £6.027m with an average of around £260,000 per club.

The 43 clubs in the North and South divisions, meanwhile, shared £3.96m between them.

Chester, Dulwich Hamlet, Hereford, Maidstone and York got £36,000 a month (total £540,000) whilst the other 38, including Havant, received £30,000 (total £3.42m).

Overall, the 43 North and South clubs received an average of £92,000 – £168,000 per club less than their National League cousins.

The model, which was based on last season’s average attendances – left clubs angry with some clubs with Chester, Chesterfield, Dulwich, AFC Fylde, Hereford, Kidderminster, Maidstone, Notts County, AFC Telford, Wrexham and Yeovil going public with their dismay.

For their part, Havant receive £90,000 but considered it unfair that clubs with far fewer supporters – such as Hungerford – got the same amount.

Following on from the complaints, the National League set up an Independent Review Panel with an aim of reviewing of how it’s distributed and suggesting possible changes to future financial aid.

IRP head David Bernstein, a former FA chairman, publicly criticised the National League prior to Christmas for not sharing his panel’s report with the clubs or acting upon the recommendations suggested.

The National League hit back, saying the panel recommended increased funding to 24 clubs in December with 30 clubs receiving less than they had done in the previous two months.

In 10 cases, it would have seen distribution going from an expected £84,000 down to £12,000. ‘This variation, at such a late stage, was simply not practical or legally possible,’ said Ives in his letter to clubs.

Fans reacted after seeing the 12 National League North clubs’ damning statement at DCMS and the FA…

@MikeHai18618466: Not only be made up of grants but it should be distributed fairly this time! Why on earth should a side in the league above get 94,000 when their gates are 1000 average over last 2 years. The shortfall of monies should be re allocated to the clubs adversely effected by the board!

@Brockville21: Perhaps call on them to offer some support to the Step 7 clubs that were cast adrift by the FA and now get NO support from above

@nige_hally: Any chance of the £14m for steps 3 to 6 appearing soon?

@NickDuGard1: A co-ordinated approach by both clubs and the league board might carry more weight but the frustration over the apparent delays and comms is entirely understandable

@patrickwmhullfc: Where’s Jason?!! @YorkCityFC

@matthew_bartram: I could’ve bet me house that we wouldn’t see York’s name on this list

@SpennymoorTownL: Any reason the remaining clubs didn’t add their names to this?

@afcbally: I’m surprised @telfordutd haven’t signed this?

@MCJeffsy: Clubs that didn’t add their name clearly do not need the money.

@alaninknutsford: “Not betray the trust” Please just look at who you are dealing with.

@Stewie_Villa: @LeamingtonFC any reason why your name isn’t included here? An explanation would be good.

@ElmslieEnder: Wholeheartedly agree. Grants not loans.

@BrakesVideos: @DCMS time for a clear and positive response – not holding my breath …

@Ed_Palmer96: Why would the @FA care about non-league clubs? They were more than happy to throw them under the bus in the FA Cup forcing them to withdraw from the competition, before allowing the “big clubs” to carry on in the cup with exactly the same circumstances. FA couldn’t care a jot

@MrMattyjohnson: Some embarrassing names not signed up to this.

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