National League chiefs fear games won't start again until JANUARY

National League chiefs fear games at their level won’t start again until JANUARY because lockdown rules prevent vital matchday income as clubs prepare to vote on how to conclude the season

  • Executives fear top two levels of non-league football won’t resume until 2021
  • National League clubs more reliant on matchday income than those above them
  • Playing start of the 2020-21 season behind closed door would add to their losses
  • National League sides have already decided to end the 2019-20 season in vote
  • Further votes are due on how to decide promotion and relegation issues
  • Barrow fear their Football League return after 48 years could be scuppered 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Some executives at National League clubs fear that next season at their level will not begin until January 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis.

National League teams have already decided to end the current season now and are planning a vote on how to decide promotion, relegation and play-off issues.

Some want to void the season but many are thought to favour places being decided on a points-per-game formula that would see Barrow being promoted to League Two.

National League leaders Barrow fear they may miss out on promotion to League Two after clubs decided to end the current season now amid the coronavirus pandemic

Votes will now be held to decide the best way to finish the National League season, with the fate of Ian Evatt’s Barrow resting in the hands of other clubs

Once those issues are resolved, though, some clubs are worried that they will not play again until early next year.

While divisions like the Premier League are keen to start playing again behind-closed-doors this summer, a similar outcome is problematic for non-league sides.

Fulfilling fixtures without spectators allows Premier League clubs to pull in the television revenue on which they depend.

But the leading non-league clubs are more dependent on match-day gate revenue and playing behind-closed-doors would only add to their losses.

There have already been calls for more financial aid to be given to lower league and non-league clubs from the Premier League and broadcasting companies to help them through the crisis.

Non-league clubs (pictured are Dulwich Hamlet) are reliant on matchday revenue to survive

Some executives at National League level fear games may not be able to restart until January

The situation is dominated by uncertainty and officials at other National League clubs are adamant they are preparing for an earlier return.

There are deep concerns that such a long lay-off would decimate the non-league structure and affect the livelihoods of those who depend on it.

Many non-league footballers will be out of contract before the end of next month.

The concern for others is that both the Bundesliga and Serie A, who are said to be planning to return behind-closed-doors in the coming weeks, have suggested they will not play fixtures in front of fans until January.

Stockport County celebrate scoring a goal during their game at Maidenhead before the lockdown of football in England

Maidenhead United’s Nana Ofori-Twumasi greets a fan with an elbow bump before a match

Fears of National League clubs not being able to return until 2021 were given credence yesterday when England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty said the UK would have to endure some form of ‘socially disruptive measures’ for at least the rest of the year.

He said the chance of developing a vaccine by the end of this year was ‘incredibly small’ and until then the UK would need to rely on disruptive social distancing measures.

‘First piece of the jigsaw,’ Andy Holt, the owner of League One side Accrington Stanley, said in response. ‘No season ticket sales and no crowds until 2021.’


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