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Coronavirus Kent: Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter calls for authorities to offer support to non-league clubs

Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter hopes the government and professional football authorities will offer support now the National League has been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Parmenter, who is on the National League board, was in favour of matches in the fifth-tier and sixth-tier of English football going ahead on Saturday.

Dover chairman Jim Parmenter. Picture: Tony Flashman
Dover chairman Jim Parmenter. Picture: Tony Flashman

That was despite the Premier League, Football League and Isthmian League suspending matches last week.

But on Monday, the National League followed the stance set by the Premier League and the Football League, and suspended all games in the league until April 3 at the earliest.

League bosses thought they would be covered for potential loss of vital matchday revenue.

But Parmenter, speaking ahead of Whites' 1-1 draw with Chesterfield at the weekend, explained: “There are insurances.

"There is business interruption insurance and other insurances.

“The problem with the coronavirus is that it’s not what is described by the insurance companies as ‘a notifiable disease’.

“It’s a new disease, therefore it’s not prescribed in the insurance policies, and therefore, it’s not covered.

"So it’s a really difficult situation.”

Parmenter, who says he was contacted by 35 National League clubs on Friday who stated their concerns regarding their financial plight if there was a prolonged break, reckons the risk of so many teams going bust in the non-league game requires assistance from other authorities.

“You would hope that these people who are making these decisions about suspending football, know that,” he said. “And I include the government in that.

“I thought that the government had behaved really well but I think (now) they are yielding to pressure.

“You have to assess what is the medical risk and what is giving into social media opinion.

“In my view, the medical risk is still very low in terms of people suffering very badly.

“You would hope – the government, the FA and the others that make these decisions – that they would take into account non-league football because it’s the grassroots."

On what sort of impact an extended football hiatus would have for Dover, Parmenter said: “It would have a big impact.

“We have some of the lowest crowds in the league.

"Our budget is a top-10 budget.

“We have a certain amount of support from sponsors and, from myself, a lot of support.

“But there is only so much I can do.

“If all income suddenly dries up – we are not just talking about gate money here, we are talking about (money made from the) tea bars, bars, programmes and all the things that earn the club money – if that all dries up, where do you go from there?”

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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