04:15PM, Monday 15 February 2021
Slough Town have been charged by the National League for failing to fulfil their fixtures after the club refused to play matches while uncertainty over the current campaign continues.
Clubs have been voting on a series of resolutions that will either see the season continue behind closed doors or cancelled and declared null and void, and the Rebels are one of a handful of clubs refusing to play on whilst the outcome of these votes are unknown.
The National League has committed to publishing the results of all four resolutions as soon as every club has responded. Two weeks have passed since those resolutions were issued but the BBC understands the league is now close to determining the outcome of those votes for the three leagues.
The Rebels have said they’re disappointed to have been charged by the league, adding that they stand in solidarity with Dulwich Hamlet, Southport FC, Bath City and other clubs that have taken the same stance. All have questioned the financial sense of playing on with only loans to support them while the Rebels have repeatedly called for improved COVID-19 safety measures for players and club staff. Clubs across the National League structure have also been angered by the apparent promise of further grant funding beyond December, something that has not materialised, and many have said they would not have started the season had they known otherwise.
Under league rules any club which fails to fulfil a competitive fixture without just cause is liable to disciplinary action, including a deduction of points and or fines. Slough’s case is due to be heard on February 25. They have initially been charged with failing to fulfil their fixtures with Chelmsford City on February 6 and Ebbsfleet United on February 9. The club has seven days to reply to the charges.
The lack of certainty over the season has led to clubs taking unilateral decisions, with Maidstone United putting their first team squad on furlough and saying they’ll use non-contract or loan players if the vote is passed to carry on.
This weekend the league tried to calm tensions by insisting that no fines or sanctions have been ‘raised or recommended’ at this stage for clubs failing to fulfil their fixtures.
A statement from the National League read: “Many things have been written regarding charges recently raised in connection for non-fulfilment of fixtures under League Rules.
“It may be helpful to explain that this process is merely a mechanism for the League to deal with each of the occasions for non-fulfilment. No fines or sanctions have been raised or recommended and this will be considered at the next stage.
“An Independent Panel will be appointed to hear each case and it will be at this stage the issue of “just cause” as outlined in the rule will be objectively assessed in each case based on the evidence before them.
“In the interest of fairness of all parties, the cases will not be heard until such time as the outcome of the resolutions are known.
It is important that the framework in place is followed in a consistent manner in all cases and Clubs can make their representations appropriately and fairly.
“The League will not make any comment during the process on individual cases in fairness to all Clubs but will issue the outcomes and reasons for the decisions following their conclusions.
“Should Clubs remain unsatisfied with the outcome they will also all have the opportunity to appeal the decision directly to The Football Association which will be heard by a further Independent Panel in line with The FA Rules and Regulations.”
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