Clubs across Steps One and Two of the National League, including Gloucester City, are currently voting on whether to null and void the ongoing league campaign.
It comes as the government’s ‘Winter Survival Package’ only offers loan payments, despite clubs being promised grant funding to help deal with losses incurred by a lack of supporters in stadiums, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
20 of the 36 clubs to have already cast their vote have agreed to end the season, meaning the next two weeks will be historic for non-league football, although Gloucester wish to carry on as normal.
However, it is likely each step will vote separately, with the opportunity to do so popular amongst National League clubs, who get a majority say in deciding if it should be a collective decision.
This means there is a good chance the National League North and South seasons will be cancelled, with the National League more likely to continue as normal, owing to a healthier financial situation for its member clubs.
Here are the pros and cons for voting null and void:
Having no government grants is a huge blow for a lot of non-league clubs, especially those below the National League. Some teams cannot run without funding or gate receipts, neither of which are currently available. Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels have had to furlough their first-team squad, and are searching for replacements to play for free, with the latter stating, “the club will find itself insolvent by the end of the month,” if the season is not stopped, therefore this option seems a necessity for some.
CON: Hard work goes to waste
Most clubs that have stated a desire to keep playing are flying high in their respective divisions, and do not want to erase their hard work. Gloucester are enjoying one of the best seasons in their history, sitting top of the National League North after moving back to Meadow Park for the first time since 2007. Co-chairman Alex Petheram tweeted: “I’m not prepared to put my name to anything that could remotely support null & void…I owe it to Gloucester to try and fight.” Despite this, their closest promotion rivals, Chester, voted in favour of ending the season to “ensure the continuation of the club our supporters have worked so hard to build since 2010.”
PRO: Helps those struggling competitively
At the bottom of the table, clubs are voting for similar reasons, though this is being put down mostly to financial troubles. However, most teams staring down the barrel of relegation know full well they would be relieved to see the season cancelled for that reason. Two of the National League’s bottom three, King’s Lynn Town and Dover Athletic, have each voted in favour of null and void, although rock-bottom National League South side Welling United expect to vote to continue the season.Embed from Getty Images
CON: You can be charged
The National League warned clubs across its three leagues that they face charges, should they refuse to fulfil fixtures during voting. Dulwich Hamlet and Concord Rangers are amongst those to have been threatened with; “deduction of up to a maximum of three points…any expenses incurred by their opponents, and a fine,” according to league rule 8.39. Despite this, some clubs still aren’t playing, as they cannot afford to.