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'Throwing mud' not the best way to address issues with National League

Jon Adams admitted this week the National League’s governance and handling of the COVID-19 crisis has been far from perfect, but he’s not necessarily sure a motion of no confidence in its chairman and board is the best way to go about addressing those issues or learning lessons for the future.

A proposal has been put forward by Maidstone United and Dorking Wanderers asking all National League clubs to support a motion of no confidence in the league’s chairman and board.

The letter lists 11 areas of contention, including Friday’s decision to fine clubs who refused to play fixtures while the outcome of resolutions to determine the season was still unknown. Clubs had until 12pm on Wednesday to respond.

However, while admitting that some of the decisions taken this season have been far from perfect, Adams doesn’t believe that ‘throwing mud’ is the best solution because it detracts from the challenges that are already there and need to be addressed.

“There’s no doubt we’re not in a perfect scenario,” said Adams. “Clubs throughout the National League started the season because we felt there was an assurance in place that further funding would be available should it be needed.

“My take on it is we’re not in a perfect scenario. I do think there are lots of lessons to be learned, and I do think it would be right for there to be a full review of what’s happened, looking at the implications of that in terms of how the league is managed moving forward.

“Is a vote of no confidence the best way to do that, I don’t know to be honest with you. It’s far more important that clubs step back and there’s a review of what’s happened.

“That there is a review in terms of the Government’s governance and management of the league is undertaken, and that lessons are learned in terms of decision making and engagement with partners so that if this happens again, or there’s another scenario that requires difficult decisions to be made at least there is a clarity around it.

“I’m not always a big fan of the throwing mud solution because it detracts from the challenges that are there.”

Dorking and Maidstone would need 10 per cent of clubs to back an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) at which a no confidence vote would be taken.

Last week’s announcement of ‘sweeping fines for clubs’ was included as an example of the league’s ‘questionable governance’ over the past 12 months. The proposal said that decision ‘smacked of insensitivity’ and went on to say the ‘management of the crisis by the league’s board has been inadequate from the beginning and is now the subject of widespread anger and ridicule’.

Adams added: “Clearly clubs like Dorking and Maidstone do feel that they’ve been disadvantaged, but the reality is that many clubs, in some respects, feel like they’ve been disadvantaged, it’s just that we all have our own perspectives and we’re also influenced by our position within the league and how the things that have played out have influenced where we are. It’s a difficult one, there’s no perfect answer to it and that’s the reality.”

National League clubs only started the season thanks to a £10m grant from the National Lottery and with assurances further funding would be found to see them through to the end of the campaign.

When this proved not to be the case a majority of clubs in the National League North and South voted for the campaign to be declared null and void, feeling it was impossible for them to continue playing matches behind closed doors without income or grant aid. The Government said that from January onwards funding to continue the season would be in the form of loans.

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