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All three National League tiers suspended amid lack of government support

Tories only offering loans, not grants, which clubs say puts their existence in peril

MATCHES in the National League North and National League South divisions have been suspended for two weeks with immediate effect, it was announced yesterday.

The news came following a league board meeting and under heavy pressure from 12 National League North clubs which had called for the season to be halted.

A National League statement read: “Following the review of the feedback from clubs in connection to the recent clubs meeting, a board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South Divisions for a two-week period, effective immediately.

“As a result, tomorrow’s games are formally postponed.”

The futures of the National League, National League North and National League South were thrown into serious doubt when the Tory government, which had provided a £10 million rescue package in October, made the unpopular decision that any future funding would have to be in the form of loans rather than grants.

At a meeting on Wednesday, all 66 clubs were given the option of taking an individual loan from the government, taking a centralised loan from the National League, or cancelling the season.

A large number, including half of the National League North, chose the third option and called for the league to be scrapped before this weekend, when they would have incurred more costs and – without any coronavirus testing – put themselves at risk.

The clubs’ joint statement had read: “While the integrity of the National League is important, we do not value this above the safety and wellbeing of our families, staff, volunteers or that of our heroic workers who are tackling this pandemic on the front line.

“Furthermore, we have now been asked to consider loans against our clubs and we are quite simply not prepared to trade whilst insolvent.”

The clubs wanted the suspension to allow time to “lobby our respective MPs and carry out our own financial risk assessments against avoiding a null-and-void scenario.”

“We are duty bound as mere custodians of our clubs and will do everything we can to ensure we do not place any avoidable further financial burden now or in the future upon our community assets.”


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