Kent clubs respond to National League South being declared null and void

Saturday 20th February 2021

Kent clubs have responded to the news that the National League North and South divisions were declared null and void on Thursday evening.

Dartford were sitting in second-place in the National League South table with 34 points from their 19 league games and Steve King’s side were five points adrift of the league leaders, Marc White’s Dorking Wanderers, who had a game in hand.

“We are still taking stock of the situation following the results of the votes on the National League resolutions, which have decided that the National League can carry on, but the North and South have to stop,” said Dartford co-chairman Steve Irving in a statement.

“We have been quite open in our opinion that we all play in the National League and should be treated as one league.

“The result, in simple terms, was that out of 64 member clubs, 40 voted to carry on and 24 wanted the season to end.

“This just goes to show that the League rules are flawed, where a vast majority of clubs can defeat the majority option.

“We have a board meeting on Monday evening to discuss the ramifications of this decision and we will update you on the way forward next week.”

Ebbsfleet United were in eighth-place in the table with 28 points from their 18 league outings, just a point and a place beneath the play-offs.

“The club is extremely disappointed with the outcome on behalf of our supporters, commercial sponsors, playing group and dedicated staff who have all worked extremely hard in planning for this season and performing throughout it to very high standards despite the regular interruptions,” said a statement from the Stonebridge Road outfit.

“A great deal of work, time, resources and a substantial amount of care and commitment has been invested in this season to date and as we made clear in previous statements on the matter, our preference was for clubs who wanted to continue to be able to do so.

“We will digest and process this evening’s news – as you can appreciate there is much we have to scrutinise in the coming days – and we will weigh up all the repercussions to provide our supporters with another update, potentially early next week, on the club’s plans and further reaction to the League’s abandonment.

“As always, our thanks and thoughts are with all our fans and volunteers who have supported and stood by the club so brilliantly during this difficult season to date.

“As a result of this announcement, Saturday’s match against Dorking Wanderers will not be going ahead and we of course share our supporters’ disappointment.”

Maidstone United sat in eleventh-place in the pecking order with 19 points from their 13 league games.

“While it wasn’t a total surprise, it was still a shock to see a second season chalked off as null and void,” said CEO Bill Williams in a statement.

“For the majority of clubs in National League North and South my sense is that the news will come as a huge relief. The financial grim reaper was circling and several well-run clubs were teetering on the edge of financial ruin, the worst kind of defeat that could befall them.

“Those who voted to continue playing will be naturally disappointed. This is not a situation of anyone’s choosing, we all started the season with every intention of seeing it through, believing the grant funding would be there to support us while fans weren’t allowed in.

“I see there is already talk of legal challenges, it’s like Brexit Mk 2! Should we have the best of three? A game of paper, rock, scissors? Where does it all end?

“A bit like Brexit, had this vote gone the other way, I am sure those who’d voted to continue would have implored those who didn’t to carry on.

“We were prepared to and huge credit to Hakan who had assembled a squad to enable us to fulfil our fixtures.

“So, that’s two squads in one week we’ve had to say goodbye to. I’ll say more on that in the next couple of days but can I put on record my thanks to Hak, Terry, Jim, their backroom staff and all our players.

“Thanks also to everyone who supported us during the past 12 months – season ticket holders, sponsors, advertisers, match day volunteers and more. More on those to come too.

“A lot to think about in the next 12 to 24 hours. Give us time to let it all sink in and I’ll update you in the next day or so.”

Tonbridge Angels were in fourteenth-place in the table with 16 points from their 14 league outings.

“It is of course a matter of record that Tonbridge Angels voted to end the season but let us say straightaway there is no sense of victory or celebration today,” said the Longmead Stadium club in a statement.

“There are no winners emerging from this extraordinary few months and whilst mistakes may have been made this is not the moment for recriminations or accusations.  

“We know that many clubs will be very unhappy with Thursday evening’s announcement and we fully understand that point of view.  Clubs have different administrative structures and varying business models and some would have been confident in carrying through this season to a conclusion.  There was never going to be a totally positive outcome for anyone.

“For us it was a simple case of economics.  With virtually no money coming in but still attempting to aspire to the ideals of a semi-professional organisation competing within an elite football league, the finances simply didn’t stack up.  We should all remember that the real reason for the difficulties the National League has found itself in has been the Pandemic itself, a virus that in the UK alone has claimed near on 120,000 lives and has ruined countless others.  

“Successful vaccines and efficient testing will be the way through this national emergency and hopefully we will be able to welcome back all of you this coming August.  

“All levels at the club must now focus on the prize of the country returning to some sense of normality.  A stadium full of supporters, a clubhouse buzzing with all the latest chatter, healthy sporting participation at various levels for the town’s residents particularly youth, and events both public and private at our fantastic community facility, are what we all crave for.

“Much has been achieved at the club over the last few years but the potential is there to do so much more.   The Board is already discussing some very important initiatives and valuable projects which we will be sharing with you all over the next few weeks so watch this space.  

“Even now, manager Steve McKimm and his assistant Barry Moore are thinking very specifically about a first-team squad to compete in National South next season.  

“Before we place a veil over this chaotic season we shouldn’t forget the fantastic achievement of reaching the First Round Proper of the FA Cup with a live national TV broadcast from our own stadium.  That particular record will always stand.  

“However, we must now all look forward to the future; it’s very much a case of onwards and upwards!

Welling United were sitting at the foot of the table with 12 points from their 14 league games, level on points with the side immediately above them, Slough Town, having played two games more.

The Park View Road club were one of 18 clubs who penned a joint-letter to the League to express their feelings of wanting to carry on with the season.

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