Update (22/01/2021): The National League North and South have been suspended for two weeks after a majority of clubs backed ‘option three’.
The National League season is in doubt after more than a dozen clubs announced their support for suspending the 2020/21 campaign.
The National League Board is expected to meet today (22 January) to discuss the outcome of a pyramid-wide consultation about the future of the current season.
Following a series of meetings this week, National League bosses confirmed that the latest round of financial support from Sport England would be administered as loans instead of grants.
The National League asked clubs to keep the nature of their survey responses confidential
Clubs have been offered two funding options that would allow the season to continue.
The first package would see individual clubs loan money through a central process.
Under option two, the National League would take responsibility for the loan and distribute money to its clubs as grants. Doing so would reduce the amount of central funding clubs receive in the future.
The Boar Sport understands that the National League asked clubs to keep the nature of their survey responses “confidential.”
In a statement on behalf of the Board of Directors, Leamington FC chairman Jim Scott said the Brakes did not see “individual loans to clubs as a viable option.”
A dozen National League North clubs have backed a joint-statement calling for “the immediate suspension of the competition to allow the National League, FA, and DCMS time to find a solution that is acceptable to all.”
Leamington, who are not part of the 12-club coalition, have asked league bosses for more information before announcing their final position.
It does not make financial sense to continue playing behind closed doors with the dramatically reduced income streams and no grant funding
– Jim Scott
“Last September the club agreed to the return to playing football on the basis that grants were available until such time as supporters were allowed to return to games. We were given assurances from the National League and FA that such funding would be provided although the detail for the period January to March 2021 was unknown at that stage,” said Brakes chairman Jim Scott.
“Following a meeting of all directors last night the club submitted its’ response to the National League stating that we did not see individual loans to clubs as a viable option and would require clarification on the second option re the distribution model and future impact on central funding, before deciding whether we see it as a viable option.
“Whilst this has been a successful season for the team thus far and there is a desire for a continuation, it does not make financial sense to continue playing behind closed doors with the dramatically reduced income streams and no grant funding.”
Matt Western, the Member of Parliament for Warwick and Leamington, has called on the government to provide “urgent grant funding” to non-league clubs.
In a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, Mr Western wrote: “Like businesses and individuals, no football club deserves to go under as a result of a pandemic beyond its control. I hope you take urgent action to prevent this.”
National League bosses are expected to make a statement later today.