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National League vote is like watching a slow death says Dartford co-chairman Steve Irving

Dartford co-chairman Steve Irving has described the National League vote as “like watching a slow death”.

National League clubs across all three divisions are currently voting on whether to continue the season or declare it null and void due to a lack of government funding.

Dartford co-chairman Steve Irving.
Dartford co-chairman Steve Irving.

The result of that vote could take until the end of this month to be known, and it’s a situation which is causing frustration across the league.

“There’s some real tactical voting going on, I’m not quite sure why – just get on with it and make a decision,” said Mr Irving.

“It took us hours to work out what each resolution meant and once we did work it out we had to check it with each other to make sure we had made the right decision.

“To prolong the season the way it is at the moment, as much as we want to carry on, it’s like watching a slow death and it’s absolutely appalling.

“One of my main opinions is the league is the National League and we’re all members of the National League, and we should be voting as one league.

“We voted against resolution 1 as we think all clubs should vote together. But the way the constitution is set up, that doesn’t give the clubs in the north and the south very much hold because they only get four votes in each league against 24 in the national division.

“It looks like the national division are going to vote for themselves to carry on and that will cut adrift the north and the south. I think that’s just appalling.

“It’s very close but my gut feeling is that we will be cut adrift and the national division will carry on.”

While Dartford voted to carry on the season, Mr Irving conceded that there is no right or wrong answer – and they will follow the lead of Maidstone, Dover and Tonbridge in putting players on furlough if the season is declared null and void.

“We’ve considered furlough and will do so if and when the decision goes against the way we prefer to go,” he said, talking on KMTV's Team Talk.

“It’s a very difficult situation that we’ve all been put in. There’s no right or wrong answer in what clubs are doing.

“We are of the mind that we have a duty to carry on, we have a duty to our sponsors, our supporters, to the National Lottery for the funding that they provided and the borough council for the funding that they provided. To close it all down now would just be wrong.

“We are very keen that we should carry on at the moment, and that’s not to say that in a short period of time the funds will be stretched terribly if there is no change in the decision made by DCMS.

“It seems quite clear that DCMS, through Sport England, never said that there would be grants in the second tranche.”

Dartford have spent most of the season at the top of the National League South but the uncertainty is having an impact.

They’ve won just one of their last five games with off the field discussions seemingly proving a distraction on the pitch.

“We’ve been top of the league on and off for many weeks but we really aren’t playing as a top of the league side,” said Mr Irving. “I’ve been open in saying that.

“You can see something is not quite right and I think the whole situation is unsettling for everybody.

“They’ve got no crowd behind them, they don’t know if there is going to be a game the following Saturday, and it must be so tough for them to really gee themselves up for a game.”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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