National League general manager offers Hawks and other clubs who voted to carry on playing a potential lifeline

Mark Ives has handed the National League South and North clubs who voted to carry on playing in 2020/21 a potential lifeline.

Sunday, 28th February 2021, 7:26 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th February 2021, 7:29 pm
Tommy Wright, left, in action for Hawks against Hungerford Town in January - both clubs voted to carry on the South season before the league declared it null and void on February 18. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

The sixth tier seasons were declared null and void on February 18 after 25 out of the 43 clubs voted to end the season in the wake of a financial crisis brought about by a Government decision to only offer loans instead of grants.

Hawks were one of the 18 clubs who voted to carry on to put their names to a letter to the league’s general manager Mark Ives calling for them to be allowed to carry on playing the season to a finish.

The letter said: ‘We respectfully request that the league strongly consider that the two divisions at Step 2 continue playing their seasons, either separately or as one.

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‘We believe that this is in the best interests of all National League members allowing the league to cater to the needs and drivers of all clubs in a sympathetic manner, allowing those who wish to continue to do so, and those who cannot or do not wish to continue to end their season.

‘Promotion and relegation can be maintained between the National League and National League North and South in order to recover a full National League of 24 clubs next season, as well as maintaining the integrity of our relationship with the EFL.’

In an interview with BBC Three Counties Radio today, Ives said the National League are happy to consider those proposals.

‘It’s in the best interests of the league to listen to all the clubs, that’s the right thing to do,’ he said.

‘Do I believe there should be an opportunity to consider an alternative, viable solution? Yes I do.

‘The resolution (to null and void the season) put forward is not binding, the FA can turn it down - the FA have responsibility for the Non-League System.

‘Do I think it’s in the league’s best interests to present everything to the FA? Yes, certainly I do. Should we be looking at all opportunities? Of course we should.

Ives admits restarting the South and North seasons in whatever format ‘opens up a lot of questions.

‘Would we need another vote, would there be two divisions, would there be one division, would teams play each other twice or once?

‘So many questions would need to be answered - that’s the challenge to try and take things forward.

‘We owe it to the clubs to consider every possible avenue.

‘The clubs who didn’t vote to play on have to be treated fairly as well. It’s not a binary issue, is it?

‘The league is committed to being fair to all 66 clubs.’

Some sixth tier clubs have carried on training even after the null and void verdict was delivered, while at the weekend Gloucester City and Dorking - leaders of the North and South tiers respectively - played each other in a friendly.