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Ebbsfleet United hope to avoid relegation and Dartford want the play-offs as the National League look for a way to end the season

The wait could soon be over for National League teams on a decision how to end the season.

Ebbsfleet United’s survival hopes could hinge on the protests being made by a number of other clubs - including neighbours Dartford. The Darts are keen to take part in a play-off campaign to try and win promotion.

Dartford hope their season isn't over Picture: Sean Aidan
Dartford hope their season isn't over Picture: Sean Aidan

After the National League season was ended early - teams are now left battling it out off the pitch to see who the winners and losers are.

The National League's original proposal was to decide placings on points per game and for no play-offs to take place in National League North and South, promoting just one club instead of two. It’s one that would keep Fleet up.

Clubs were left waiting on Monday for a revised proposal so that they could have their say. A vote was expected that day.

The National League is split into three divisions. The National League is the top level of non-league and is fed by the regional National League South and National League North.

York City are one of those who would be big losers. They would drop from first to second on points per game - therefore promoting King’s Lynn in National League North instead.

York would drop into the play-off positions but the National League have said these can’t be played under current government guidelines as step 2 (National League North and South) isn’t deemed as elite level and, as such, can't resume. That’s how the National League appear to have interpreted the guidance, at least. Others aren’t so sure.

It’s caused a big debate in non-league circles, with many teams, including Dartford, protesting that they should be allowed to play. The National League have said only one team can go up automatically. York have tabled a proposal making it two, if as expected the play-offs can’t take place.

If York’s proposal is agreed and two go up automatically from the North and South then Fleet are likely to be relegated.

At present, under the National League’s preferred option, bottom side Chorley would be the only team relegated - the only team in the entire non-league pyramid this season to face relegation.

Chorley are making their own protests, saying they shouldn't be getting relegated if nobody else is. Their manager Jamie Vermiglio said the proposal was "unjust, inconsistent and unfair" and adds that the "relegation element of their proposal lacks integrity."

Dartford are among those insisting the play-offs should be played.

They sit sixth place in National League South and manager Steve King scoffed at suggestions finance was putting some teams off. EFL clubs were facing big bills to continue their season, but King reckons it would only cost the club £12,750 in total, with a maximum of three games.

Dorking Wanderers say it would cost a maximum of £25,000.

Dartford would play Slough Town in the first game of any play-offs. Their co-chairman Steve Irving has described the situation as “utterly ridiculous.” They have a team ready and waiting to compete - they have had since clubs voted to end the regular league season in April.

Only last week did the National League make anyone aware that the “elite level” wording from government's sporting guidelines would be an issue.

Second placed Havant & Waterlooville have backed the #promote2 campaign. Their MP Alan Mak has got behind them and both he and the club have written to the National League and the government’s Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, calling for a change to the proposal.

Mr Mak's letter to Brian Barwick, chairman of the National League, said that the government had not expressed a view about whether the National League and/or the National League South are - or are not - elite.

Elite athletes are deemed to be those who make a living from competing in a sport. The letter puts the onus on the league to now make a decision themselves.

Whether it’s automatic or play-offs, if two go up from the National League North and two from the South, then that would be bad news for Fleet. Both they and Dartford now face an anxious wait.

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