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Chester chairman calls for major changes to National League system as Barwick resigns

Chester chairman Andrew Morris calls for major changes to National League system as Brian Barwick resigns at the end of the season.

He feels that his club and fellow Step 2 sides should get more of a say in the National League’s big decisions with Barwick making the decision to stand down as the league organisation’s chairman.

However Andrew Morris clarifies that by him leaving doesn’t mean that it solves issues for clubs in divisions north and south.

Barwick’s decision to stand down was made in February but was confirmed by the league this week. A number of clubs had backed calls for a resolution which would have enabled a vote of no confidence in the chairman and the board.

That was followed by a number of complaints by some teams, including about funding and how grants were allocated to clubs.

The clubs are now discussing their options going forward but for Morris, he would like a change to the voting system to give those in National Leagues North and South more of a say.

He said: “It is always a shame to see somebody leave their job but, based on the press release that came out from the National League, it was clear that this was something that has been Brian’s decision.

“On a personal level I wish him every success in what he wants to do moving forward. I feel on reflection, and I wonder if he feels the same, that perhaps he would have done the last 12 months differently. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

“As a club and for the National League now it is about looking forward. We hope his successor will come in and communicate and engage with clubs and really represent all the interests of Step 1 and Step 2 clubs the same.

“We have to hope the National League comes out stronger and better for it and we thank Brian for all that he has done.”

Morris adds that by getting greater representation for Step 2 clubs making it even more crucial.

He said: “Our concerns aren’t necessarily just individuals and the leadership, it is actually the whole governance model around the National League set up, the way the voting is weighted to such that the National League North as a league only gets four votes but every National League club gets a vote.

“So, we have a very small voice in any discussions that affect our level of football. We hold significant concern about the level of scrutiny and internal governance that takes place within the National League. That is not to say they are doing anything wrong but as a fan-owned football club we know better than any that there is the need to be transparent.”

In terms of the voting system, he said: “There are 32 votes in total, the National League get 24, one for each club, and the National League get four votes, as do the National League South.

“So, any issue is very heavily weighted for the National League clubs and the decision will tend to be in their vested interests. That is fine, every club will always vote for their vested interests but that isn’t always what is in the best interests of the game.

“That is one of the things we are looking to change because we feel it is right for the National League that these issues are addressed.”

He says: “One of the examples was around the postponement of the league. In the end it was finally amended with some criticism, and that did allow the National League North and South to decide on their own future. If the constitution had been followed, the National League North and South clubs would have had to have done what the National League clubs had decided.

“Other examples are distribution of TV money. We only get around, I think 20 per cent of what National League clubs get in regards to a central TV payment. There are lots of good reasons for that. You could argue the payment is there because of the National League clubs but, as we see throughout football, it is about the system and a pyramid.

“They are some of the things that sometimes that are lacking with the way the voting system and the weighting of it works.”

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In announcing he is to stand down, Barwick said: “Since 2015, I believe the competition has continued to grow in stature and profile, sent strong clubs up into the English Football League and built up a formidable and loyal set of commercial and broadcast partnerships.

“Our 66 clubs remain the lifeblood of our competition and a vital part of their local communities – and that’s what makes our league so special.

“I also acknowledge just how tough it has been for many of our clubs over the past 12 months facing the unprecedented challenges brought on by the Covid pandemic.”

As the Chester chairman calls for major changes to National League system, what would you like to see? Let us know on our socials.


@Hackett01: Good riddance – Piss up + brewery comes to mind.

@johngunn2: When he goes he needs to hold the door open for the rest of the board to follow him. None of them come out of this smelling of roses.

@LiamRichards8: Byeeeeeeeeeee hopefully door hits you on way out

@Arthurt27L: His first 5 years were very good on all fronts, its the disastrous last year that will inevitably be his epitaph with the 66 national league clubs. The pandemic ,then the decisions. Of the 11millon funding distribution disparity. With no meeting minutes, basic error.

@paul10dickson: Never heard a peep from this ‘Chairman’ during the pandemic, won’t be missed!

@nonleaguenext: Good. Now hopefully we can get people in with the desire, focus and determination to get a season of non league football completed

@wastedrockrange: Wouldn’t you say he failed? Given where he’s come from at the very least his remit should have been to get 3 up and 3 down to the EFL and perhaps persuade support member clubs on promotion with 3G pitches with the farce that the EFL won’t allow them

@OctoLes: I wonder if he kept a straight face when he said that he appreciated how hard it has been for the clubs, in view of the fines that have been imposed for cancelling games ‘without just cause’?

@PaulBayliss9: “Acknowledges how tough it has been in unprecedented times”. Shame tha National League as a whole have not done so. Maybe one of the reasons he has resigned, I know I would, in his shoes.

@PaulGC84: Whilst this is good news, the Chairman cannot be the only person to blame. I’d suggest other board members that have been pivitoal in the poor decision making should resign too.

@KeithEugene3: The whole board should go but I doubt their egoes will allow them to resign. At least he had the guts to do so.

@safetywatto: Which is code for “I’d read the room and could see a vote of no confidence coming like an alcoholic in a room full of free beer”

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