Fri, 05 Feb 2021
HUNGERFORD Town chairman Patrick Chambers is confident that the National League South campaign will be able to finish, despite issues with government funding.
It’s been recently announced that the next instalment of funding would be provided in the form of loans rather than grants.
As a result of this, the National League system (Premier, North and South) has been told it has until February 28 to vote on the outcome of the current season.
The 66 clubs across the three divisions have to decide whether they want to continue, with the option of low interest loans, or null and void the leagues.
"I suspect the season will continue," said Chambers. "I know there is some lobbying in terms of trying to get grants, but it feels to me that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) are saying it’s either low-interest loans with favourable terms or nothing."
There will be a vote to determine if Step 1 teams (Premier) join Step 2 teams (North and South) in the outcome.
If more than 75 per cent of clubs vote against this, then they will vote separately.
Chambers said: "If we vote together on the season, it is one vote per club and you need 34 clubs that want to end it and I very much doubt there is anywhere near that many.
"We all knew, even if fans were allowed in October, that we’d be working at 15 or 20 per cent of our stadium capacity and that didn’t really affect Hungerford.
"But any club it did affect, then you would think that they have budgeted accordingly.
"We slashed our budget from around £166,000 to £98,000, so we have taken out £70,000 and that’s around 40 per cent of it.
"I’m not sure why other clubs didn’t reduce their budgets because of the circumstances we face, but I can’t answer that."
The Crusaders committee are due to meet this week to discuss their situation, but the chairman has made it clear that he wishes to continue.
He said: "We’re pretty united and we want the season to continue, especially in light of the £10m football foundation funding and council grants.
"I expect clubs in other positions will have different views and that is the problem. Teams near the bottom might want it to stop, but teams at the top will want it to continue.
"It is all about budgeting, about getting to the end of the season."
Chambers was still frustrated with how things have developed in recent weeks, but his main concern is what happens over the next month.
"We have definitely been misled," admitted Chambers. "We started the season with the promise that there would be further funding between January and March.
"In the cold light of day, you look at the businesses across the country that have had to take loans out to survive.
"Why football should be treated any differently?
"On one side, we have been misled, but there is no point in playing the blame game now, it is all about the future."
Although clubs have until the end of the month to submit their votes, the North and South divisions – which have been suspended for two weeks – will resume from Saturday.