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Baker 'not surprised' that majority of National League clubs want end-of-season play-offs cancelled

It appears the majority of clubs in the three National Leagues want to see the end-of-season play-offs cancelled, however, with the league’s board waiting for guidance on how things will look going forward from the English Football League (EFL), no decision is likely to be made until next week at the earliest.

A few details have emerged from the National League’s board meeting and play-off consultation this week, which saw 65 of the 68 clubs in the three leagues respond.

There was strong support in all of the divisions to cancel the play-offs, with most of those who did vote in favour being the clubs who would be likely to benefit from playing in them.

Reflecting on the consultation, Slough Town’s joint boss Neil Baker said: “It’s not a surprise is it. I think it’s ridiculous that clubs have been consulted that have got no impact at all on whether they get played or not.

“The fact that they’re not in them, I just don’t think they should have been consulted.

“In football you have a lot of people who don’t want to see other people getting success. There will have been some tactical voting, and others thinking ‘I don’t like such and such, I don’t want them in there. It’s just the way football is. It was no surprise whatsoever that it’s come out this way.

“As soon as they even mentioned the consultation on the players we said to each other ‘we know how this is going to go’ because those who are in it, will want to play them, and those who aren’t don’t care and will just turn around and say ‘let’s cancel it’. I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t know why they even bothered with the consultation vote when they said yesterday (Wednesday) that they’re going to wait on the EFL’s decision anyway. That’s the right thing to do anyway, because if the EFL stops Leagues 1 and 2 and there’s no relegation, then there is no need for play-offs because there will only be one club going to replace Bury. And that will then just go on a points-per-game basis for Barrow and Wealdstone.

“I think all along they should have just said we’ll be guided by the EFL and once they make a decision then we can make a decision.

“If they’d said that at the beginning everyone would have accepted it. Football’s not going anywhere. It’s not going to change. People could have waited. Who knows when we’ll hear. We don’t really get told anything and often get things second hand like everyone else. When they originally talked about having a vote, Twitter had that before the clubs had it.”

The National League is keen to keep its two promotion places to the EFL, however, BBC Sport has reported that if the EFL does not complete its season then Stevenage will likely avoid relegation, with only one team to come up from the National League.

The National League season was officially brought to an early conclusion on April 22, however, no further information has been provided on how it will determine promotion and relegation with the league’s board waiting for direction from the EFL. However, the board hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility of expunging all results, which was the case for teams at steps three to seven of the non-league pyramid.

The National League is also yet to seek an extension from the FA Council to play matches beyond June 1, something that would be needed for play-offs to take place. This would require a vote by the full FA Council.

“I don’t understand why they can’t do that (extend the season),” added Baker. “The Premier League is going to be going until July as I understand it, so I don’t know why the FA can’t extend our season. Football (the new season) isn’t going to be starting up again in August, let’s be honest.

“There’s absolutely no hope of that.

“It’s a difficult position for anyone to be in, I get that. But I just don’t think they’ve covered themselves in an awful lot of glory in terms of how it’s been handled really. Once we got the consultation back last month and they decided the season wasn't going to finish, at that point it should have been ‘are we going to play the play-offs? We’ll make that decision as a league and then canvas the clubs who would be involved. Can you put it on if needs be?’.

“That’s what should have happened. To open it up to the opinions of other clubs who’ve got absolutely nothing to do with it. It beggars belief really.”

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