09:31AM, Thursday 18 February 2021
Joint boss Neil Baker says he’ll be shocked if sanctions are brought against Slough Town for failing to fulfil their recent fixtures and believes it’s now just a matter of time before football at step 2 is cancelled and declared null and void.
More than two weeks ago clubs were asked to vote on a series of resolutions to determine the outcome of their respective league seasons and, while the outcome of that vote is still unknown, Baker believes there’s a clear majority of clubs in the National League North and South who have voted in favour of scrapping the season.
There is an expectation that games will continue in the National League, but the situation is far less certain for the step 2 divisions. If the first resolution is passed, enabling each club a vote on its respective division, a simple majority is needed either way for the season to be cancelled.
“We’re going to stand strong and wait for the vote to come out,” he said. “But we know the vote for step 2 is to null and void, that’s clear.
“We’re just waiting on resolution 1, and there are some clubs in the National League who haven’t voted yet. But I fully expect that to pass and for our league to be null and voided.
“The lobbying hasn’t worked. Everyone is fully aware now that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) isn’t going to relent and give grants. They’ve said that’s not going to happen. But from our point of view I don’t see Slough playing another game this season, that’s my personal opinion.”
Baker believes a majority of 23 or 24 clubs across the North and South divisions have voted to end the season immediately, because playing on just wouldn’t be sustainable. He’ll also be amazed if the league does decide to follow through with its charge and punish clubs, because he thinks they have just cause for not playing.
He added: “The votes are split between the North and the South leagues and I think there’s 24 to 19 (in favour of null and voiding the season). If it was just the South league, I think it would continue because there’s 13 who want to continue and eight that don’t. But you couldn’t have the South league playing without the North. It’s never going to happen. We hope to hear this week, but it’s a little bit irrelevant for us because we don’t have a game this weekend anyway.
“We know how teams have voted. One club hasn’t stated yet, but I know which way they’ve gone, so I know where we stand figures wise. Hopefully we’ll hear something before the weekend, but I wouldn’t bank on it. Our decision is justified, because it’s not a sustainable business model. We’re still a business that needs to trade to survive and without the fans it’s impossible.”
On the threat of sanctions from the league for not playing, Baker added: “I think it’s more of a procedural thing. I’ll be brutally honest I don’t expect any sanctions to be taken. I don’t expect us to be charged, and I would be shocked if they chose to charge us in the current climate.
“If there’s any case against us I don’t think they could win it. We’ve got just cause and that’s the big word here. I think they’ve pretty much highlighted that in the statement they’ve made. They know full well they can’t force clubs to trade potentially insolvently and also without a testing regime in place.
“I think initially it was a threat by the National League to try and bully clubs into playing matches, but enough clubs have made the stand not to play, and they then realised that whilst they’ve got to follow the procedure of sending through the charge sheet, they’re not in a position to really do anything. That’s just my opinion. I don’t think there’s any court in the land that wouldn’t say we have just cause for not playing.”
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