Harriers keen to kick-off season – but majority of their rivals say no

National League North clubs – including AFC Telford United – have warned that the majority of them would not be willing to start the 2020/21 season without fans.

Kiddersminster Harriers' Ethan Freemantle battles against Wrexham's defenders during the Pre-Season friendly match at Aggbrough, Kiddersminster.
Kiddersminster Harriers' Ethan Freemantle battles against Wrexham's defenders during the Pre-Season friendly match at Aggbrough, Kiddersminster.

Tier six clubs have pleaded with the National League board to change their ‘elite’ status in a letter published by all clubs today.

The letter, addressed to league chief executive Michael Tattersall and signed by all clubs, also cast doubt over clubs’ involvement in the FA Cup due to an unwillingness to activate players’ contracts.

The government revealed on Tuesday that the proposed return of supporters to elite football in October has been paused, possibly up to six months, leaving AFC Telford United and their National North counterparts fearing for their futures.

National North clubs met via Zoom yesterday ahead of the National League board meeting at 2pm today. It is understood clubs have been invited to meet with league bosses for discussions tomorrow. Their letter read: “During the meeting a set of anonymous polls were conducted with the most important question being asked of clubs; Given the simple option, no caveats attached, of starting the season or not without crowds, what would your answer be?

“The majority verdict of 81 per cent from clubs in the National League North would be to NOT start the season, unless there was a financial support package in place for member clubs.”

Clubs highlighted that many player contracts begin ‘on the commencement of the football season’, as per the information received by them from the National League and Football Association.

Telford and their rivals would commence their season in the FA Cup second qualifying round on October 3, three days before the planned start of National North, thus activating contracts with no matchday revenue due to the extended absence of supporters.

The clubs added: “This would leave clubs exposed to having to pay these players for the rest of the season with obvious financial implications.”

National North and South clubs are fighting the ‘elite’ status they were controversially granted in July, meaning they fall under the same umbrella in legislation regarding fans as the Premier League. Clubs have also raised the question in their letter as to why they are only represented with four votes per division when it comes to voting on the upcoming campaign, when fellow ‘elite’ clubs from the National League – one division above – have one vote per club.

“We believe the decision regarding when to start the National League should be democratic across all members due to the financial implications of any decision on member clubs,” the letter continued.

“This is never more apparent following the government’s decision on Tuesday and we request that we should be treated equally and have one vote per club across the whole National League system.

“These are views shared by clubs in the National League North and we ask that they are represented at the National League Board meeting taking place today.”

The letter was signed by all National North clubs except for York City and Kidderminster Harriers.

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