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Confirmation of financial support but National League clubs are still waiting on the finer details

Sam Barratt scoring for Maidenhead United at a virtually empty York Road

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Confirmation came through last week that National League clubs would receive financial support from Government to get them through the next few months without the income generated by supporters.

However, the club is still waiting for clarity on exactly how much it can expect to receive and whether that will cover its match day losses.

A £10m grant is to be split between the 67 clubs in the National League’s three divisions and, while that’s been welcomed by Maidenhead chairman Peter Griffin, he knows that pay-out won’t be equally shared by the clubs.

Maidenhead submitted a detailed breakdown of their match-day income to the league last week and Griffin is hopeful those losses will be covered, or go some way to offsetting them, until fans are able to return.

“We’ve received communication from the National League which has confirmed that,” he said. “They’ve said it’s £10m over three months which runs through until Christmas. They’ll then review it again, but the idea is to get fans back in if it’s possible. Obviously, the Government would rather not be paying out the money.

“Every club had to submit a breakdown of what they were losing out on by not having supporters, that’s your gate money and other match day income. The National League has got all of those, so, I guess we’ll get something towards that, whether it’s all of that or something towards that.

“The pay-out I understand is going to vary from club to club because it’s to replace what they should have had as income from supporters. It doesn’t consider the club’s wage bill and nor should it. It just looks at what you’re losing out on financially by not being able to put games on properly. That’s all we know at this stage; we don’t have any details yet.”

Griffin added: “We don’t know how they’re doing it, but it’s certainly going to be a great help no matter what and it could be that it covers the losses that we’ll incur playing matches behind closed doors or it will cover a proportion of that. It was imperative that we got the season going and it will hopefully keep us going until the point where we can get supporters back in.”

Griffin has a background in the pharmaceuticals industry, having established and run Pharmalink Consultin and now G&L Scientific, so he speaks from a position of some authority on the impact of COVID-19. And he believes it is possible for clubs like Maidenhead to safely accommodate a smaller number of socially distanced fans.

“We’re learning more about this disease all the time and the chances of you catching it from person to person transmission outdoors in the open appears to be incredibly low risk,” he said. “The chances of you catching it when you’re in a small, enclosed space like a room, and when you’re not socially distanced is much higher. People will say there are loads of people travelling to games on public transport, but, when you’ve got 1,200-1,300 people watching Maidenhead, it just doesn’t seem to be a risk.

“However, the compensation that’s been set aside is very welcome so we can start the season and look to a time when we can get people back in.”

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