Darlington manager Alun Armstrong hits out at Gloucester City chairman Alex Petheram over his resolution to play out the season.
The Quakers boss has described suggestions of continuing the current season for some teams in a mini-league format as ‘the worst thing I’ve ever heard’.
Armstrong also named it ‘rubbish’ with Petheram proposing that teams who want to play do so, and teams who do not want to play, stop. The teams who continue can battle for promotion places in two “mini-leagues” with the finals played at Gloucester.
He said: “I’m still very keen to find a resolution that isn’t as ‘final’ as making clubs that don’t want to play, play – the reasons for which I fully understand and accept – and stopping clubs that want to play football. As for me, they both have financial issues.
“I understand why some clubs aren’t prepared to, or can’t, work with Sport England to try to gain a grant, loan or blended option.
“On the other hand, there are clubs like ourselves that don’t want to stop playing football and, in my opinion, waste taxpayers’ money via the furlough scheme.
“For me, the job retention scheme us exactly that – job protection for companies that can’t trade at their full capacity.
“Elite footballers can play football, so let us play.
“I have seen the concerns of some around the league rules regarding loans and support from Sport England. This for me is a non-point as without Sport England, directors’ loans and the Football Foundation, how would clubs ever build new grounds or undertake ground improvements?
“A copy of this statement will be sent to the National League today and I hope some form of solution can be found that allow clubs to stop if they have already voted to do so, or play on.
“How will that look?
“For example, a promotion-only mini-league – two mini-leagues are formed and finals are played to allow three teams to gain promotion.
“The finals can be played at Gloucester, free of charge to the league and clubs, as we’re in the middle of the country and yo-yo between the North and South (divisions).
“I feel that clubs in the (National League) North especially felt that this vote would be a landslide and it appears that hasn’t happened. So surely this is another potential resolution which saves taxpayers’ money, allows elite football to maintain promotion and relegation between the National League and North/South, and maybe more importantly, looks after all of the National League club members.
“Of course, some will now say that this is just clubs looking after themselves. That’s obvious – that’s what everyone is doing. Every club is only trying to look out for themselves. That’s life. There’s just more than one agenda.
“I owe this to my fans and players at the very least. We’ve been top of the table pretty much all season to date and yes, we want to play and be allowed to dream.”
Speaking to Darlington’s website, Armstrong gave his thoughts on the proposal:
“This rubbish I’ve heard and seen about letting the clubs that can afford to continue do so is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. A so-called mini-league or consolidate the NLN and NLS teams together that want and can afford to continue; it’s just another example of the haves and have-nots with money dictating who can and can’t play.
“I repeat and will continue to repeat alongside every other club that all clubs want to continue, but they can’t afford it, through no fault of their own. The majority of the teams in the NLS, some teams in the NLN and even some in the NL must have thought Christmas had come early with the original grant funding handed out by the league, receiving way more than they would get on a normal monthly basis.
“Remember it was for lost gate revenue, yet the majority of those clubs only get gates of 400-500, so they were heavily subsidised. You don’t have to be a mathematician to work out that the well-supported clubs in all three leagues, including ourselves, were massively sold short with the way the money was distributed.
“That could easily be the main reason why no more grant money has been forthcoming from the DCMS. Who knows?”
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