Finally, Hawks could learn how their National League South season is going to be ended this week

Hawks could finally find out how their season is going to be brought to a finish by the end of this week.

Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 11:30 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 11:30 am
Hawks midfielder Wes Fogden is tackled during Hawks' win at Dorking - the clubs' last National League South game on March 14. Picture: Kieron Louloudis

The club, along with the rest of the National League, have been in limbo since football was halted in mid-March.

This coming Sunday will be three months to the day since Paul Doswell’s men last played - a 2-1 National League South victory at Dorking.

The National League are waiting on the EFL to make a decision on how League Two will be finished before revealing their own plans.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The EFL board are due to meet today, with the National League’s eight-man board - featuring six representatives from top flight clubs and one each from the South and North divisions - following suit on Friday.

Hawks are hoping that whatever the EFL decide, the National League will adopt the same. And the EFL have already dashed League Two clubs’ wishes by saying there has to be relegation from the fourth tier.

In turn, the fervent wish at Westleigh Park is that the National League honour relegation from their top flight - and promote from their two feeder leagues.

The worst case scenario is the National League board vote to honour promotion but prevent relegation, but that would be at odds with the EFL’s decision, and the National League obviously want to align themselves with the latter as much as possible.

At the moment, after weeks of conjecture, all options remain on the table.

If the National League can promote two teams and relegate the bottom three, four teams can come up - two from the South and two from the North.

Normally, the champions in each division go up followed by the winner of the play-offs.

The play-offs could still take place, as the league have been granted special dispensation by the FA to play on beyond May 30.

It is doubtful whether the play-offs would be staged at clubs’ own grounds. Instead, a bio-secure venue - such as the FA’s St George’s Park near Burton in the East Midlands - would be a preferred option.

There, all the teams - six of them - could be housed on site for a specific period of time.

If the play-offs are deemed too problematic - who is going to pay for the testing needed? - then another option could be to promote the second-placed club.

That would be great news for Hawks, who lay second when the 2019/20 campaign was halted.

The dreaded null and void also remains an option.

Moving forward, the National League have told clubs that the August 8 start date for 2020/21 - less than two months time - will ‘inevitably need to be reviewed and updated.’

The 68 clubs have been notified that an AGM will be held in August ‘on a date to be confirmed.’ And next season cannot start until an AGM has taken place.

‘It is assumed that it is not practical and sustainable to commence the new season if matches are to be played behind closed doors,’ the National League have said.

That is an opinion Hawks agree with.

Director Trevor Brock told The News: ‘There’s no doubt you can’t sustain football behind closed doors at our level.

‘There are a lot of costs and no income - it’s totally impractical.

‘That is what is going to drive the return of non-league football - what happens with the spectators?’

The National League have also informed clubs that the final wedge of central payment will be released ‘as soon as it is prudent to do so.’

Clubs at South and North level receive around £6,000 per year from the league, via four payments of around £1,500. Hawks and their rivals have so far received the first three cheques.

Clubs in the National League top flight bank the best part of £50,000.

Add in the money from the Premier League’s solidarity payment, and the financial gap between the National League’s 24 clubs and their 44 South and North cousins is a large one.

A few months ago, shortly after lockdown was imposed, the Premier League advanced their £125m payment to EFL and National League clubs. But while Hawks and their divisional rivals banked around £13,500, the National League top flight clubs received around £56,000 each.

In all, then, clubs in the South and North collect just over £20,000 from the Premier League and National League combined, compared to over £100,000 in the division above.

Havant paid around £1,500 this season just to affiliate to the National League (it would be more if they were a division higher). Clubs have been told that next season a rule change could see registration fees taken out of the central payments.

*

At present, Alfie Rutherford is NOT available to play for Dorking if the National League decide to hold play-offs.

The striker recently left Hawks to sign for their South division rivals for an undisclosed sum.

But because he signed after the transfer window had closed, he is not eligible for the play-offs.

Whether the National League change the rules on new signings if the play-offs due take place remains to be seen.