Football clubs in the National League are due to vote this week which could see season ended early for the second year running, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, the closure of stadiums to fans has led to huge financial trouble for the non-league game due to club’s heavy reliance on matchday revenue and gate receipts.
The 2019/20 season ended up being decided on a points per game basis, and whilst this season began in October, non-elite football was suspended in England on January 4 following the announcement of a third lockdown.
Despite still being behind closed doors clubs agreed to begin this season after they thought they were promised government funding to cover the whole season.
However once the initial funding of £10 million, covering clubs up until the end of December 2020 finished, The Department for Culture Media and Sport offered long-term, low interest loans in order to keep clubs on the pitch.
While the DCMS are adamant that claims they went back on their word to provide grants instead of loans are “untrue”, clubs say they wouldn’t of even began this season if they’d have known it would involve loans.
The news isn’t good for two of our local teams Stockport County and Altrincham who both sit in the play off places of the National League and could do without the season being determined null and void.
However, the news for clubs lower down the football league system, including FC United of Manchester, is optimistic after the Government agreed to give clubs in steps three to six £10 million in grants.
Unless the DCMS recognise the issue National League clubs have in taking up loans, then it is likely the majority will vote to end the season early, which could result in Greater Manchester’s clubs losing the chance to fight for promotion.