02:00PM, Thursday 18 June 2020
Maidenhead United chairman Peter Griffin is hopeful near neighbours Slough Town can ‘pull off a Denmark in Euro 92’ and join them in the National League by winning the play-offs.
Griffin says it would be great for local football if the Rebels were join the Magpies at the top level of non-league football, however, he does have reservations over whether clubs at step two can afford to put the testing and protocols in place to stage play-offs safely.
National League clubs have voted through an amended resolution for ending the campaign on a points-per-game basis and the proposals had play-offs at step two back on the table.
The Magpies chairman was in favour of the original resolution, which was amended following opposition from National League North and South clubs, but does acknowledge this second draft is fairer for all. He’s just thankful clubs can finally focus on the future after months of uncertainty.
“I think the vast majority of National League clubs were in favour of the original resolution (which would have cancelled play-off matches at step two), but I think this amendment has made it even fairer,” said Griffin.
“And now I’d be amazed if this resolution doesn’t pass. The National League has been trying to manage this crisis and everyone has been quite critical, but I think we’ve now got to a point where we can move on and finally put it to bed.
“We’ve voted in favour. We would finish fourth from bottom on this PPG basis and because of the Bury situation we wouldn’t go down. So we don’t really have a vested interest in this but I think it’s probably the right thing. I do have a worry for the clubs taking part in the play-offs though.
“Even at the bottom end of the estimate it costs between £12,000 and £15,000 to do the testing and then you’ve got the cost of putting the game on, which will be borne by both clubs. That could easily be a couple of grand. And then you’ve got to negotiate with the players about how and what you pay them.”
Slough Town will be underdogs for promotion in the National League South play-offs, having finished their truncated season fifth, behind both Weymouth and full-time side Havant & Waterlooville, who were second.
The prohibitive costs of regular COVID-19 testing might also mean they get less group training time than their rivals, but Griffin says they’ve got little to lose, other than a big chunk of money, if they fail in their attempt. He also believes they could benefit from being underdogs and having little time to prepare as a team.
Slough are set to play Dartford at Arbour Park in their first play-off match on July 18, before taking on either Havant or Weymouth away on July 25 if they win. The final is scheduled to take place on August 1.
“You assume that the players can get themselves relatively fit in a non-contact way,” he said.
“And then you’d have a few training sessions before putting them into a normal game. You would never do that for pre-season. You wouldn’t go back in after a few sessions in pre-season because of the risk of injury.
"And you’re asking them to throw themselves into this very competitive clash. I’m sure some of the full-time clubs will be able to do a little more training. They’ll return in the next week or so for the first game back on July 18. I’m glad I’m not involved to be honest because it’s a real faff.
“I can see why teams want to be involved in it. It gives them a shot at promotion and going up. But even if you do it in Slough’s way, which sounds sensible from a cost point of view, you’re still throwing in £20,000/30,000 and have a one in six shot of going up.
“That said clubs will want to go for it and presumably it’s money these clubs won’t have for next season’s budget. Some clubs will be bankrolled but for others it will come out of the budget.”
Griffin added: “If Slough were to come up through the play-offs it would be great for local football. With Wealdstone coming up also and us not going down that would be a great thing. I’ll be rooting for them. I always remember Denmark back in 1992. Yugoslavia were meant to play in the Euros but Denmark took their place just before the championships started. Denmark were on the beach, literally the players were on their holidays. But they came in and won it.
"The other clubs had all done training camps and meticulous preparation. You can do all the prep you like but maybe Slough’s approach will be less pressured. More so than Havant who are the higher placed and bigger money team. I always like to be the underdog.”
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