Published: 13:01, 18 November 2020
| Updated: 17:54, 18 November 2020
National League directors have hit back at a group of clubs calling for chairman Brian Barwick to resign.
Nine clubs said Barwick should step down in a row over the distribution of a National Lottery bail-out - Maidstone United among them.
But league directors, including Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter, say the group of nine have “brought our competition into disrepute” and have “severely hurt” Barwick and vice-chairman Jack Pearce.
They say criticism has been delivered "sometimes in the vilest of terms" and describe the clubs' "diatribe" as "ungrateful and self-serving".
The group of nine called for Barwick’s head after appealing for an independent review into the allocation of the £10 million bail-out which has left some clubs with serious shortfalls in their budgets.
Funding was initially due to be distributed based on lost gate revenue but the league instead choose a different model, taking other factors into account.
The group of nine said there were conflicts of interest at board level but the directors refute those claims.
"We had to work quickly to ensure that money was in place and ensure the survival of many of our member clubs," said the directors, in an open letter to the Non-League Paper.
“We had to work equally quickly to work out a methodology of distribution to ensure that clubs in need received the monies without delay.
“The great majority of our clubs have expressed their gratitude for what is, to date, a unique funding package in football.
“Over the past few weeks, some nine or ten clubs have expressed their dissatisfaction with what they actually received without seeming to recognise or acknowledge that the great majority of clubs were perfectly satisfied with their distribution.
“We, as a board are always open to fair comment and criticism, not to mention positive suggestions.
"In fact, what we have received is a regular diatribe of criticism from this small section of clubs which has, at times, been positively defamatory and has never been less than ungrateful and self-serving.
“This has now culminated in those clubs currently publicly demanding the resignation of our long-serving chairman, Brian Barwick and previously in statements, emails, and blogs that of our even longer-serving vice-chairman, Jack Pearce.
“Both are well-respected figures in the world of football with unblemished reputations of the highest level.
"These clubs who are now 'demanding' this action simply, as we continue to maintain, do not represent the views of the majority of the clubs and certainly do not represent the views of the board which continues to have the utmost faith, confidence, and respect for those two officers.
“These clubs have not only brought our competition into disrepute but have severely hurt two individuals who have worked tirelessly and ceaselessly throughout the pandemic for the greater good with amazing results.
“As these clubs well know there are proper ways to air complaints and issues within our rules and yet they have sought to circumvent those rules by their unreasonable demands and personal attacks.
“Their main complaint seems to be aimed at the methodology of distribution.
"The chairman offered their representatives the opportunity of meeting him face to face on a zoom call at which no club from the National Division attended.
"In any event, the meeting lasted a couple of hours and was felt to be constructive.
“They have been told on several occasions that the distribution is under constant review.
"The spokesperson of the allegedly aggrieved clubs claims, without any evidence whatsoever, that the board has made 'serious errors of judgment' in making unilateral, subjective decisions regarding distribution which ignore government guidelines and ignore the board’s conflict of interest. That is simply incorrect.
"Even as it stands the first distribution fully complied with the terms of the agreement with Camelot which was, in turn, agreed and approved by The FA and the DCMS.
"Similarly, all the 'aggrieved' clubs have had explained to them that there is absolutely no question of conflict.
"The directors are elected by all clubs and do not represent their own clubs on the board.
"Tempting though it has been for us as a board, who have been libelled as a group and in some cases individually, to resort to legal action, we have for the moment kept our counsel, taken all the criticism on the chin, and simply battled on to seek to ensure that this funding is renewed after the initial period.
"Not one of our critics has offered to assist us, merely to criticise us, sometimes in the vilest of terms.
"This is despite the fact that it has been made clear to all clubs, not just the vociferous few, that any club with serious financial problems should come to the board and all efforts will be made to find a way to assist them."