‘We don’t consider ourselves ‘elite’ at all’ – Havant & Waterlooville boss Doswell ahead of behind closed doors FA Cup tie opener with Horsham

Paul Doswell is grateful for the Government’s financial support to teams within the National League pyramid.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 10:21 am
Empty terraces - Hawks celebrate scoring against Dartford in the National League South play-offs in July - in order for that game to take place the National League was classified as 'elite' football, the same ruling which is now preventing clubs at that level from welcoming fans. Pic: Dave Haines.

But the Hawks boss conceded clubs would prefer to welcome supporters back than have to rely on a grant to get the new campaign up and running.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddlestone announced in Parliament on Wednesday that financial support would be coming for Hawks and their 66 National League rivals.

It means hard-up clubs at step 1 and step 2 level will receive grants to subsidise lost match-day income from gate receipts only.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

'Clearly, if we hadn’t have got any financial support I think a lot of step 1 and step 2 would not have been competing this weekend in the FA Cup,' said Doswell.

‘It was great to get that news that they are definitely supporting us to help us with gate revenue that we’ve lost.

'It’s also pleasing that it gives us the confidence that we have got a league season that will start the week after.

‘We’d rather be able to have 600 or 1,000 supporters, which is what we were told we’d be allowed to have, in the ground and not have the support of the government.

‘None of us wanted to play behind closed doors, none of us don’t want the supporters there.

‘I’ve got to be honest, it’s not the same.

'Ultimately, we’re in the situation we’re in and we’re grateful that the Government are going to back the National Leagues to be able to continue playing.

‘Otherwise we wouldn’t have been playing this season I don’t think - it was that serious.'

Doswell believes the National League was wrongly classed as ‘elite’ level football by the powers-that-be.

In order to complete the 2019/20 play-offs - which Hawks took part in - that is the definition all clubs had to meet under Government guidelines.

But being classed within the ‘elite’ bracket means supporters are not allowed to attend National League matches, and this weekend they cannot attend FA Cup ties even if their team is playing away at a lower tier club.

'We were caught in no man’s land,' conceded Doswell.

‘The word ‘elite’ is a joke because the word ‘elite’ was used by the FA and not us.

‘The word ‘elite’ is if you derive an income from football.

'We don’t consider ourselves ‘elite’ whatsoever, we consider ourselves a really good non-league club.

‘But the government definition to compete in the play-offs was ‘elite’ and we got caught by that a little bit.

‘But ultimately it’s all come out okay because we are going to be allowed to play.'