01:00PM, Saturday 09 January 2021
Magpies CEO Jon Adams doesn’t see any reason why National League clubs can’t continue to play throughout this third national lockdown; however, he admits a lot will depend on teams’ ability to fulfil fixtures and the funding they receive from Government.
National League clubs can continue playing matches behind closed doors thanks to their ‘elite status’, however, COVID-19 has already led to the postponement of many matches this season.
Most notably the Magpies last two games, at Barnet on December 28 and Wealdstone on January 2, were called off because of COVID events in the opposition camp, while Dover have so far played only 10 matches compared to leaders Torquay United’s 17.
With a new variant of the virus seemingly more transmissible, Adams says clubs must be ready for fixtures to be called off at short notice, but he’s hopeful they’ll be able to press on with the season.
“I think there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see the league continuing,” he said. “But it depends on how much the current COVID outbreak impacts on teams’ ability to play fixtures.
“Dover, for example, have had a couple of COVID incidents already and have only played 10 matches.
“The possibility exists that the season may need to be paused or extended to account for these sorts of things, but I’m confident that we and the other teams in the league are committed to pushing on and seeing the season completed successfully.”
He added: “We’re working hard to ensure we’re abiding by the COVID protocols that are in place so we can maintain player and coaching staff safety.
“To date we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve been one of the few teams that haven’t had an incident within the club. But we have to be ready for that should it occur in the future.”
Maidenhead also don’t yet know how much financial support they’ll receive from the Government for the remainder of the season, or in what form it will arrive. Adams says clubs will likely have to apply for funding, but he’s hopeful they’ll receive enough to complete the season if all of their matches have to be played behind closed doors.
“We know there’s a package of funding that’s around £11m for the benefit of teams in the National League Pyramid,” added Adams. “What we don’t know yet is how we will be able to access that funding and what that funding is for.
“It hasn’t been confirmed to us yet whether it will be loans, whether it will a combination of loans and grants or whether it’s a grant. We have no idea at this point in time.
“My understanding is that it’s going to be a different funding mechanism to the one that was put in place for us before Christmas, which was through the National Lottery directly to the FA. There’s some indication that there will be a process where we have to apply for funding via Sport England, but we’ve been given no details at this time.
He added: “Clearly that’s a bit worrying and challenging for us, but we had always planned that income would be severely reduced. We probably couldn’t have imagined that it would be as impacted as it has been. We’re one of the few teams that hasn’t at any point in time had fans in the ground with us. Our revenues have been hit significantly. But we have planned prudently.
“We’re waiting to find out what the funding will be and how we can access it. Hopefully, it will be in a form that we can make use of.”
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