BOARD STATEMENT: THE NATIONAL LEAGUE STEP 2 DECISION
The club are bitterly disappointed to learn that the FA Alliance League’s Committee have today approved the Resolutions sought by the National League that resulted in Step 2 being null and void.
Given the great deal of effort by the National League to achieve ‘Elite Status’ for its divisions, and (in addition) given the willing acceptance of National Lottery funding in order to secure the commencement of the playing season, it is astonishing that any type of governance process can lead to this outcome being attained.
The National League Board and Executive Management are fully responsible for the entire mess that has engulfed ALL their members clubs.
Let us set the record straight; firstly, the distribution of the lottery money was executed without rationale, causing a great deal of discomfort of varying levels across clubs. An independent review found categorically that the issuing of the funding was flawed by its disproportionate distribution method, seemingly that had been planned without due care and consideration.
In addition, and ultimately catastrophically, the National League assured clubs of further grant funding only to then inform clubs that this was not available due to a dispute with the DCMS. Astonishingly the National League could not find any minutes from any meetings with the DCMS that confirmed this.
With all this in mind, member clubs understandably became nervous about their financial safety, and several clubs sought to not fulfil fixtures pending further information. The National League Executive, at the height of the dispute, took the horrific decision to put a black and white vote in front of clubs regarding whether they wished to continue or not continue, with full consideration for those that were concerned about their financial security. However, their acumen prevented them from considering the impact of those other clubs that for differing reasons wanted to continue.
Yes, there will be competitive reasons why people want to finish. After all, we are by nature part of a football competition. But in addition to that, there are other financial reasons why some clubs would be more affected by the closure of the season rather than the continuation.
The Resolutions put to clubs included a vote on changing constitutional voting structure. By doing so the league sought to claim that a vote could be democratic across clubs, yet strangely created a vote whereby the voting of one division could effectively close down the other. It is important to remember that the National League South had a strong majority of clubs that wished to complete the season. The restructuring of the vote also enabled Step 1 clubs to essentially vote for no relegation, yet the National League will use words such as “integrity” in their press releases.
The Resolutions were signed off by a National League Board of which the majority are Owners and/or Chairman of National League Step 1 clubs.
We, alongside other clubs, strongly challenged the lawfulness of the Resolutions and made significant representations as to why they were taken outside of statutory company law. Upon this, requests were made to “work alongside” National League officials to try and find a working solution, and as such clubs would agree to step down from the legal representation provided.
In the subsequent four weeks National League Officials offered no direction in finding a working solution and left the entire process of finding a solution to the clubs that wanted to carry on, safely in the knowledge that this would be a protracted process and one that would by pure virtue make finding a solution that was approvable more unlikely. In four weeks, National League officials have not formally communicated once to those clubs who wanted to continue, and despite various zoom calls organised by clubs they only attended on one occasion and this was for only 15 minutes. This lack of leadership was in extreme contrast to the leadership shown to put forward Resolutions, including the lobbying of clubs to return their forms.
We will in due course release the league representations (made to the National League by QC Nigel Lawrence) to all press outlets. In addition, we are meeting other clubs with regards to taking the matter to FA Rule K Arbitration.
To clarify, clubs very much wanted to avoid any kind of legal process given both the mental and financial stress that this brings all parties, as well as it's lengthy determining outcome.
The ridiculous decision to place a contrived knee jerk vote in front of clubs sought only to divide the football community, as has been apparent to all.
It is important for all clubs to understand that the incompetent leadership of the National League has in one way or another caused all clubs to be placed into stressful and difficult circumstances, and we as a club now call for all National League member clubs and their supporters to come together to recognise this fact.
To reiterate we are bitterly disappointed for all our commercial partners, season ticket holders and supporters, club staff and football management team, along with our dedicated hard-working volunteers who have worked relentlessly during the pandemic to enable the club to fulfil its obligations to its Elite status.
In summary, with good strategical leadership the league could have comfortably created scenarios that protected all their members clubs. It was crucial to protect both those clubs that could not continue, and those that also could.