National League latest as Port Vale wait for opponents



While matters have been all-but settled in the EFL, the wait goes on for a final decision as to how the National League season will end.

The non-league season was brought to an end back in March when football was first suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, but the National League has waited for the EFL to reach a resolution on how to end its own campaign before deciding on their own standings.

Despite League Two having now been decided, apart from the matter of which team will be relegated, the National League remains without a resolution, and it looks as though it may not reach one for some time.

Here’s a look at the current situation in non-league, and the chaos that surrounds the efforts to decide how the season should end.

What has been proposed?

The proposal in the National League is similar to the outcome we’ve already seen in League Two, with a points-per-game (PPG) system used to determine the final standings.

That would see Barrow promoted to the EFL as champions, returning to the league for the first time in 48 years, while the play-offs would remain in place to decide who would join them.

With the play-offs in non-league working slightly differently to the EFL, six teams rather than four would earn a shot at going up.

Under PPG, five of those teams are already in play-off positions – Harrogate, Notts County, Yeovil, Boreham Wood and Halifax Town.

The club currently sitting seventh though, Stockport County, would drop out of the reckoning, with 11th placed Barnet taking their place instead.

Why the hold-up?

The complications lie in the matter of what to do at step two – the National League North and South.

On Wednesday, just hours before a National League meeting was set to go ahead, clubs were told the proposed resolution would state that play-offs at step two would not go ahead.

The reasoning was that step two is not considered “elite” sport under government advice, and therefore wasn’t eligible to have games take place behind closed doors. The guidance defines an elite athlete as a person who is:

·        An individual who derives a living from competing in a sport.

·        A senior representative nominated by a relevant sporting body.

·        A member of the senior training squad for a relevant sporting body.

·        Aged 16 or above and on an elite development pathway.

The proposal would see just one team – bottom side Chorley – relegated from step one, while the champions of National League North and South would be promoted (Bury’s expulsion from League One means fewer sides would be going down from step one).

Under PPG, York City would be replaced at the top of the North table, with King’s Lynn being promoted as champions, while Wealdstone would go up from the South, while there would be no opportunity for other sides via the play-offs.

What has the response been?

Various sides have voiced their displeasure over this, with York and Havant & Waterlooville submitting a new resolution adding that, should the play-offs not be played, then two teams should be promoted – that resolution was rejected.

A number of clubs, including King’s Lynn, have shown their support for it though, piling more pressure onto the National League, while some MPs have taken up the matter with Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), and Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister.

On Saturday, MP for Havant Alan Mak published a letter he sent to Brian Barwick, chairman of the National League, which stated that the government had not issued any specific directive about the National League, nor any view on its “elite” status.

With the latest developments, there have been suggestions that the play-offs in step two could be reinstated.

Still waiting

The deadline for voting on the proposals was understood to have been on Sunday, but as of yet, there has still been no formal announcement on how the National League season will be decided.

That could be because, according to reports, National League clubs have not received the ordinary resolution or voting form, nor have they had any communication from the League explaining why they weren’t sent out on Friday as planned.

And there are now suggestions that the vote has been delayed, meaning the wait goes on to see how matters will be decided in non-league.





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