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Hungerford Town chairman Patrick Chambers concerned as league season could be cancelled

The government have announced non-league clubs may have to loan money to continue

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886629

Hungerford Town chairman Patrick Chambers concerned as league season could be cancelled

HUNGERFORD Town chairman Patrick Chambers has been left frustrated with the way the funding for the National League has been handled.

Clubs across the National League system (Premier, North and South) started their league campaigns in October after receiving £10m in grants from the Government.

But after a number of recent board meetings, it was announced that the next installment of funding would be given out as loans rather than grants.

As a result of the news, the vast majority of clubs opted to suspend the North and South divisions for two weeks in the hope that the issues can be resolved.

Crusaders chairman Chambers said: "Nobody would have started in October if they knew that there would be no crowds and from January onwards you could only borrow money.

"There would have been no point in doing that and they need to sort it out, but I think common sense will prevail.

"There have been a lot of MPs who have interacted with their local clubs and the Government will soon see that it will cost £14m in furlough, if you don’t turn the £11m into grants."

With clubs against the idea of loans, the decision on the future of this season rests on a U-turn from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The £10m funding to start the season, which came from the National Lottery, only covered the first three months of the season and as a result there is major uncertainty in regards to the remaining campaign.

Chambers added: "There is now a real threat that Step 2 may well see the season become null and void after all the hard work and Covid protocols put in place and not least the vast amount of money spent thus far.

"We have to stick together as a league and we have to let the powers that be try and navigate us and give us the right guidance and secure the grants we need if we are going to continue."

The DCMS, however, announced on Wednesday the first round of Winter Survival Package funding.

It revealed that clubs in Steps 3-6 will receive £10m in grants, while clubs in Steps 1-2 will receive loans but “can apply for grants if their imminent future is at risk and loans are unaffordable”.

On Step 1 and 2 National League funding, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: "With precious public money, we are providing financial support to the National League Steps 1 and 2 in the form of loans.

"However, if clubs at those levels can demonstrate it needs grant funding urgently to survive, we will ensure that option is available.

"The £10m grant for lower league clubs in Steps 3-6 will act as a lifeline for around 850 clubs in towns and cities across England."

Further confirmations of funding from the Sports Winter Survival Package will be made in due course.

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