National League South season cancelled: ‘We’re disappointed but we have to take it on the chin’ – Hawks CEO Stuart Munro

Hawks chief executive Stuart Munro said his club will have to take the null and voiding of the National League South season ‘on the chin’.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 8:22 pm
Hawks in action against Ebbsfleet last weekend in what turned out to be their last game of 2020/21. Photo by Dave Haines

The league confirmed tonight that the sixth tier seasons will be cancelled after the majority of clubs voted to stop playing in the wake of the funding crisis.

In order for the seasons to have carried on, 22 of the 43 clubs in the South and North tiers needed to vote to continue playing.

Hawks were one of 12 South clubs that voted to do so, but only six from the North did the same.

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That meant the season was null and voided by a 25-18 majority.

‘I’m surprised by the timing of the decision but not the result,’ said Munro.

‘We’ve been expecting a null and void for a week or so now.

‘I must admit I thought, having got to Thursday evening, we’d have to wait until next week for the result.’

Marc White - owner/manager of South leaders Dorking Wanderers - admits he could take legal action against the National League to challenge the decision to null and void.

Munro, though, says Hawks won’t be doing the same.

‘We have to accept it and we will accept it,’ he told The News.

‘Considering we voted to carry on, we have to be disappointed the season is over.

‘We weren’t in the best of form but who’s to say we wouldn’t have finished in the play-offs?

‘In terms of the integrity of the league, we felt carrying on was the right thing to do.

‘That’s why Dos (boss Paul Doswell) and I sat down earlier in the week and ensured we were sending a strong team to Chelmsford.

‘We’re a big club in this division and we felt it was important to carry on, and that’s why we’re disappointed we’re not.

‘I understand there will be teams a lot more disappointed than us, but we have to take it on the chin.

‘It’s harsh on a lot of teams, but last season all of steps 3-6 was null and void - it was harsh on a lot more teams then.’

Last season, Munro suffered more than most. Prior to the pandemic taking hold of society, Alresford Town - where he was chairman - were top of the Wessex League Premier Division and targeting a first ever promotion to the Southern League.

Their hopes were shattered when the FA null and voided steps 3-6 - locally, the Southern Premier League South down to Division 1 of the Wessex.

‘It happened to me last season at Alresford,’ Munro recalled.

‘We’d played 80 per cent of our games, we were four points clear and we only had eight games left - and four of those were against teams in the bottom five.

‘It took me three or four weeks to get over it, but you have to get over it and move on.

‘Clubs like Jersey Bulls had already won promotion last season. As far as I know, nobody in the North or South has won promotion yet.

Munro, who took over as CEO at Westleigh Park last summer, was keen to put the null and voiding into perspective.

‘I feel sorry for the players,’ he said. ‘Their careers aren’t long and that’s two years now they’ve lost.

‘But they’ve lost a couple of years playing, a lot of people have lost their lives - you have to remember that.

‘There’s more important things than football.’

Many National League chairmen have been highly critical of their governing body in the last month since news broke that the clubs wouldn’t be getting any more grant money, only loans.

But Munro won’t be adding to the criticism, saying: ‘It’s an unprecedented situation and we just have to look after our own business.

‘I’ve spoken to Mark Ives (National League general manager) and expressed some of my feelings, he’s doing a good job and he’s got a very hard job.

‘The alarm bells started ringing around November and December about the grants stopping, but we were always hopeful a resolution could be found.

‘But in the last week or so you could see a null and void decision was almost inevitable.

‘You could possibly have carried on if only two or three clubs wanted to stop playing, but you can’t carry on with 12 in our division, the integrity wouldn’t be there.’