Image: Dean Williams Media
Image: Dean Williams Media

Jim Scott: ‘DCMS, please see sense and make grants the provision’

National League clubs face ‘catastrophe’ unless the government revises its decision to offer loans – instead of grants – as financial support, according to a league-wide petition. The National League North/South was suspended last week after twelve clubs backed a joint-statement demanding further support from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).

National League clubs agreed to start the 2020/21 season after the government agreed to provide grants to support them through the Covid-19 pandemic.

With most fixtures held behind-closed-doors since March, clubs received an initial injection of support in November that allowed the season to begin.

Earlier this month, DCMS and the National League signalled that the latest round of financial support would be administered as loans.

In response to a National League survey, a majority of clubs rejected a proposal that would have seen them take responsibility for individual loans.

Last week, Leamington FC chairman Jim Scott said the Braked did not see “individual loans to clubs as a viable option.”

A campaign calling for ‘Grants Not Loans’ has gained support from clubs in both tiers of the National League structure.

We as clubs find ourselves trapped by a situation not of our own making

– Jim Scott

In an open letter published on 1 February, Scott said: “All clubs started the season on the understanding that grants would be in place if crowds did not return. Players’ contracts are for the season or 12 months. As soon as we started the season, we were duty-bound by law as clubs to pay those contracts in their entirety.

“Whatever the understanding of the National League/FA/DCMS was on such future funding post New Year, the reality is that clubs’ futures are endangered through being caught in the middle of a dispute between those three bodies. If we had been advised that future funding was in the shape of loans, none of the clubs would have commenced the season.”

Scott continued: “We are hugely grateful for the government support already provided but would never have placed our club’s futures in jeopardy if we had been advised of funding being in the form of loans, we would have just mothballed our clubs for the season.

“So, whilst I understand the government’s position of being equitable to all sporting organisations, we as clubs find ourselves trapped by a situation not of our own making. DCMS, please see sense and make grants the provision.”

The league-wide petition, which has been backed by the Brakes, suggests that “the National League will not survive” without “fair funding.”

Matt Western, the Member of Parliament for Warwick and Leamington, has also called on the government to support non-league clubs.

“Much-loved National League clubs (including Leamington FC) need grant funding urgently and a long-term plan to protect all clubs beyond the pandemic,” Mr Western wrote on social media. “But rich clubs cannot continue getting richer while community clubs die out. Reform is needed.”

Leamington’s National League North campaign is set to resume on Tuesday 9 February, with the Brakes due to travel to Hereford in the FA Trophy on Saturday 6 February.


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