Today is D-Day for clubs wishing to back motion of no confidence in the National League board and chairman Brian Barwick

Hawks have declined the chance to add their name to those seeking big changes in the way the National League is run.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 10:50 am
Hawks in action against Hungerford Town in January - one of just 14 National League South games the club played in 2020/21 before the season was declared null and void. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

All 66 member clubs were this week lobbied over whether they would back a no confidence motion against the National League Board and chairman Brian Barwick.

That was after the league last week issued a series of hefty fines to those clubs who refused to fulfil fixtures after the two-week suspension of the sixth tier season was lifted in early February.

The motion was proposed and seconded by Hawks’ National League South rivals Maidstone United and Dorking Wanderers respectively.

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The motion needs 10 per cent of the voting structure to pass, forcing an emergency general meeting where a no confidence vote would be taken.

Clubs have until noon today to say whether they wish to support the motion.

While some clubs have publicly declared they will back it, CEO Stuart Munro this morning told The News that Hawks would not be responding to the email.

Instead, they are concentrating all their energies on club matters alone with Munro, boss Paul Doswell and chairman Derek Pope due to meet today at Westleigh Park for further talks surrounding the 2021/22 season.

Some of Hawks’ South colleagues, though, have been very vocal in criticising the National League.

The fortnight break had been imposed in late January in the wake of a funding crisis after clubs were told that the grants they received in the last three months of 2020 would be replaced by loans for the first three months of 2021.

A host of clubs in the South and North divisions were fined and given suspended points deductions for refusing to fulfil fixtures that were ultimately declared null and void last month anyway.

Among South clubs, Dulwich Hamlet, Slough Town and Chippenham Town were all fined £8,000 for postponing four fixtures each - £2,000 per game, as per league rules.

One of the matches Chippenham called off was a home game against Hawks on February 9.

Elsewhere, Bath City were fined £4,000 and Concord Rangers £2,000.

The letter emailed to Hawks and the other National League clubs said the NL board’s decision to award ‘sweeping fines and sanctions’ was one that ‘smacks at best of insensitivity, at worst of punishing clubs for their good governance.’

It added: ‘Football at our level is in major crisis at present.

‘The management of the crisis by the National League board has been inadequate from the beginning. It is now the subject of widespread anger and ridicule.

‘The league utterly failed to anticipate the extent of the crisis as it should have done.

‘Back in October the league failed to provide adequate information to clubs on the true funding situation relating to DCMS grants after December and failed to take minutes of meetings with DCMS where this very crucial matter was discussed. As a result many clubs are now saying the season should never have been allowed to begin.

‘As a result of these and other failings we believe matters have gone too far and the decision-makers must be held to account.’

Once news of their £8,000 fine was made public, Dulwich’s official Twitter account retweeted many posts from angry fans.

They included one which claimed the National League is the ‘worst run league in football’, another which said the ‘National League management board has been an incompetent cabal for a number of years’ and one which accused the National League of ‘absolutely abysmal leadership.’

Dulwich chairman Ben Clasper himself tweeted: ‘I think myself fortunate to be chairman of a wonderful community club @DulwichHamletFC yet unfortunate that with that comes association with @TheVanaramaNL. To take £8k from a club that lives to grow the game and give to its community. Enough.’

Concord Rangers and Chester have publicly said they will back the motion of no confidence in the National League board.

Clubs are treating the National League with ridicule and contempt … the National League is losing its authority over all of us to be honest.

Clubs in the South and North divisions have long been unhappy with what they see as an unbalanced voting structure.

While each National League club gets one vote, all the South clubs – 21 of them in 2020/21 - get just four votes between them. The North clubs – 22 this season – also get just four votes.

‘The disparity between the voting powers of the National League clubs and the North and South mean the North and South have basically got no control at all,’ said Kerry Underwood, vice chairman of Hawks’ South rivals Hemel Hempstead.

‘That’s just not acceptable - not acceptable to the huge number of volunteers, the fans, in those two leagues.’

Summing up the National League, Underwood – a solicitor – said: ‘There is a lack of leadership.’