Published: 06:00, 02 April 2021
Andy Hessenthaler is up for the challenge of managing Dover again whatever the outcome of their appeal over a points penalty and £40,000 fine.
The club were punished for refusing to carry on playing midway through the National League campaign after chairman Jim Parmenter said they could no longer afford to play without fans attending.
Mr Partmenter has said they will appeal the decision, hoping to reduce a fine which they can ill afford and a 12 point deduction which would leave them facing a battle from the off next season. Their record for this season has now been expunged.
Whites manager Hessenthaler, the rest of his coaching staff and all of the players are out of contract when the season officially ends. Dover only played 15 games of the 2020/21 season.
Hessenthaler, who has been on furlough since Dover stopped in February, said: “I am out of contract, everyone is, but I want to stay and take the challenge on, whatever that be.
“It’s a conversation for the chairman and myself, we have to sit down perhaps in the next week or so and see where we are going. Are we going to be full-time still, or are we going to be part-time because of the financial problems? We will see what direction we are going to go with the football club.
“It would be an uphill challenge for us, it would be a tough start if it is minus 12 but what a great challenge to have? If you can actually pull that back and stay in the division... I love a challenge.
“I feel as if I haven’t been able to do my job for the last two years, even the year before (2019/20) when we had to finish early with eight games to go, we were in and around it. We were four points outside the play-offs, we had a good chance of making that last place, but unfortunately that season stopped and then this season has been an absolute nightmare.
“At the start of this season the chairman was honest and said the money was tight, we had to ask players to take pay cuts and we had to run it off a real shoestring budget. We didn’t get off to a good start and unfortunately we have only played 15 games.
“I would like to think the chairman wants me to stay, there is unfinished business because of what’s happened this year and last year. He also knows we have a tough job on our hands, especially if we are going to start off on that minus 12.
“I am up for it, whether it is full-time or part-time, I want to be part of continuing what we are doing there. It is not going to be easy but I am up for the challenge.”
Dover’s punishment could have been demotion, and some might have preferred it, but not Hessenthaler.
He said: “As a club we want to be in the top division of non-league, whether it’s minus 12 or not. It could well get reduced, we don’t know. As a manager and players we want to be in this division, it’s the best division in non-league football, even though it will be a challenge.”
Dover started the season under the assumption that the grants handed out in the opening months would continue. That didn’t happen and loans were offered instead.
Mr Partmenter wasn’t prepared to take on debt to get the club through the season, one which could have been halted at the time by the high levels of Covid-19 rates in the country.
Other clubs were expected to follow but in the end only Dover acted.
Mr Parmenter told Sky Sports: “We’ve stuck our necks out while there are seven or eight other clubs in a similar situation scared stiff of the type of action the league has taken against us.
“We have demonstrated we cannot afford to continue, nor finance a loan, so how does issuing us with a £40,000 fine help football?”
Other clubs in National League North and South were fined for failing to fulfil fixtures in a league that was stopped. Maidstone United have led calls for a vote of no confidence in the National League board.
Hessenthaler certainly thinks questions need answering.
He said: “The £40,000 fine is absolutely ludicrous, where are we going to find that? We have no money.
“The likes of Dulwich Hamlet have been fined and it is absolutely scandalous, they are fining teams in leagues that are basically null and void and so the season meant nothing anyway. How can you fine teams for not fulfilling fixtures when the league doesn’t mean anything this season.
“The National League have to look at themselves. People have to be accountable for making these decisions. It is going to be an interesting few weeks.
“Hopefully we can win this appeal, they look at us favourably, and we might get it reduced if there are still sanctions against us.”