National League leaders Barrow could be ‘voted’ back into EFL if the season is not finished, 48 years after they were removed.
The non league side from Cumbria are four points clear at the top and firmly have their eyes on a return back since losing their place in 1972 due to failure in winning a re-election to Division Four.
However with the current season suspended, a decision looks more to be heading to the cancellation of all remaining fixtures in a move which could set a significant precedent for professional football.
It comes after the club spent the last few months making changes around their home of Holker Street in order to comply with EFL regulations, which they’re confident of completing.
Director Levi Gill told BBC Sport: “We would first need to be recognised as champions.”
He says that decision will fall to the National League and could be decided either by taking the current standings or deciding them on a points-per-game basis, if their remaining nine fixtures cannot be completed.
Because Bury have been expelled from the English Football League earlier in the campaign, there is currently a vacant spot in the structure which could sway in Barrow’s favour.
Barrow: National League leaders could be voted back into EFL, says Bluebirds director https://t.co/TKX3CJEHGd
— BBC News England (@BBCEngland) March 30, 2020
Gill added: “If the National League recognises us as the champions of the division then I would say the normal process would kick in, and it’s up to the EFL to accept us.
“In principle, we have been accepted – they have looked at the business, looked at the ground, what we want to do, and that’s all been approved.”
Bluebirds boss Ian Evatt also says “it will probably end up a vote on whether we go back into the league or not” – but Gill is happy to take a place in League Two however it comes.
“It is a shame for the fans,” added Gill, who says the club have been praised by rival supporters for their football this season, and even dubbed ‘Barrowcelona’.
“To have got promoted after 48 years on the pitch would have been amazing. It would be nice to do it properly, but to do it at all is amazing.”
As mentioned, the club lost their place in the EFL back in 1972, even though they finished third from bottom of Division Four, when the bottom four clubs were required to submit to re-election.
That format continued until 1986 when automatic relegation was introduced to the National League (known as the Alliance Premier League in 1979, then the Football Conference).
The Bluebirds were voted out and replaced by Hereford United – who finished second in the Southern League.
“Hereford had just knocked Newcastle out of the FA Cup, it was on television, the famous goal from Ronnie Radford, so they were a big deal,” explained Gill.
“We had finished third bottom and they hadn’t even finished top of their league.
“There’s still that sense of injustice at being voted out.”Like what the Fan Banter have on offer? Sign up for more League Two notifications!