Gloucester City chairman Alex Petheram proposes a “mini-league” as mentioned in a letter sent on how to allow teams to keep playing.
Voting is currently underway on whether to continue or null and void the season with clubs gradually picking their option and announcing them in a club statement.
An rough look at how it’s panning out these the last couple of days has 17 teams from Step 2 in favour of ending the season and 15 against. Ten of the clubs are said to be against continuing play in the National League North.
Whatever the outcome, it is likely to be contentious. Some teams have strongly argued against having to play, which incurs costs and heightens the risk of players and staff catching the coronavirus. Others want to continue to preserve the integrity of the football pyramid and to not waste the National Lottery grant money or taxpayers’ money through the furlough scheme.
Petheram therefore simply proposes 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.”
Fans reacted as the Gloucester City chairman proposes the “mini-league”, see what they made of it below…
@spattinson001: The only way this season is if it is to continue as a mini league. Moving games around is all well and good but then could lead to nothing. Going to be a close call #ycfc
@Richard_Fryer: Loans for ground improvements are not the same as loans to meet current account deficits. Please don’t patronise clubs without “sugar daddy” owners to keep them afloat by pretending they are.
@TheVOTTE: ACTIVATE BOILED NORTHERN PISS (York an honorable exception)
@Calvo98_: And clubs want to stay afloat but let’s just sacrifice that because Gloucester want to play football.
@BarryTh71456958: I think all clubs ‘want to play football’. Some have had the rug pulled from underneath so it would be irresponsible to do so.
@kentwix12: Fair and just. If you don’t want to play on, fine, then don’t. If you do want to play on and achieve promotion to the VNL, you should be allowed to.
@evakev5: 👏 great statement
@johnham80417069: Spot on, if only others were like it
@SportGloucester: Well done, fully support this
@ianjdemaria: With you 100% on this. We just want to play on
@daveangel1972: It’s a win/win solution, forcing nobody to do anything they feel isn’t right for them!
@JoshButlerBUFC: Good idea. Having worked out the mini league for the north although we’d be bottom using only the games played so far, it’d be a good idea. Hopefully crowds would be back in some form by April and May too when these games could be played
Meanwhile, the chairman of one particular National League club has said that he is fully prepared to stop “cease football operations” within days.
See more on that by clicking HERE.