02:30PM, Wednesday 03 February 2021
Slough boss Jon Underwood reckons clubs in the National League North and South are in for an ‘interesting few days’ as they wait to find out if the suspension of their league will be extended or if they’ll be forced to return to the field of play.
The league was suspended two weeks ago after clubs made their feelings clear they couldn’t continue playing matches behind closed doors without proper safety measures in place and only loans to support them.
The Government hasn’t significantly shifted its stance in the meantime, with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport insisting that its second tranche of funds will be issued as loans. Grants are available, but only in exceptional circumstances, if a club can prove its imminent future is at risk or show that loans are demonstrably unaffordable.
Slough last week signed a joint statement from 16 clubs in the North and South divisions reiterating their stance that they cannot afford to play on without further grant support or further safety measures to highlight COVID-19 cases.
Clubs were set to be given the chance to vote on what should happen next at their respective level, with step 2 clubs likely to seek to cancel the season and declare it null and void. However, many still feel it’s possible to force the Government’s hand into reconsidering the possibility of further grant support.
Reflecting on the situation this week, Underwood said: “I think most clubs want to continue, it’s just whether it’s viable to do so.
“There are clubs that have been saying we should carry on, but if there is no chance of a grant and it is just loans, I think even those clubs would have to admit defeat and say it’s not viable to continue.
“It is going to drag it on, unfortunately, another three or four weeks now. The big question, which wasn’t answered by the National League when they put these resolutions out on Monday, is what happens in the meantime.
“We have been guided that the league carries on, but it’s created an interesting situation shall we say. Nothing has been resolved. Obviously, they’re trying to get grants and I believe there are conversations where they’re trying to organise a testing protocol.
“But none of those things are in place.
“You’re saying to clubs, who two weeks ago weren’t prepared to play for those two reasons, they have to play when neither of those have been resolved.
“It’s going to be an interesting few days because a couple of clubs came out yesterday (Tuesday), Concord Rangers in our league and Kettering in the National League North saying they’ve advised the league they won’t be playing in that 28 day period.”
Underwood said he was expecting an update on the situation later today (Wednesday).
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