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Ebbsfleet United and Dartford await expected National League vote to decide how the season ends

A vote on the outcome of the National League season is expected to take place next week.

It could mean Ebbsfleet United stay up but the likelihood of a play-off campaign for Dartford in National South is looking slim.

Ebbsfleet United are facing a wait to see what division they will be playing in next season Picture: Sean Aidan
Ebbsfleet United are facing a wait to see what division they will be playing in next season Picture: Sean Aidan

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.

They have been waiting on the EFL (the Championship, League 1 and League 2) to decide on the outcome of their divisions before a decision could be taken. Clubs in both League 1 and League 2 have voted to stop play now.

It’s likely that the National League will now replicate the EFL’s points per game system for determining league positions, which would leave Fleet dropping a place to third from bottom. That would normally mean relegation.

National South and National North would, in normal circumstances, promote the champions and let the next six teams battle it out in a play-off. Dartford would finish sixth on PPG and face Slough Town in a play-off encounter.

There will be no relegation from the North or South as the FA ruled several months ago that levels three and below are null and void, this meaning no teams are coming up from step 3 which includes the Ryman League, Premier Division.

It’s looking increasingly unlikely that the North and South play-offs won’t take place and only one from each division will be promoted.

Clubs at step two of the non-league pyramid (National League North and South) are not classed as elite and therefore aren’t covered by the government’s ruling on returning to play. Under those guidelines it would not be possible to play at present.

Dartford are unlikely to be taking part in the play-offs Picture: Chris Davey
Dartford are unlikely to be taking part in the play-offs Picture: Chris Davey

Cost is another major factor. Teams would have to pay for coronavirus testing as well as paying for all of their players and staff, on what is a one in six chance of promotion. It’s a cost that led many teams in League 1 and 2 into deciding to stop play and few in the National League will have the funds to pay.

There is no rule that states a second club would be promoted automatically fromNorth and South. As long as that stays the same, Fleet’s position would be safe.

With only two up, that would mean Chorley being the sole team relegated form the division above and a reprieve for Fleet.

King’s Lynn would replace York City at the top of National League North on PPG and long-time leaders Wealdstone would claim the South title. York City are without doubt going to fight for a second promotion place to be included.

The National League (step 1) are considered elite and so would be able to contest a play-off campaign. Barrow would go up on PPG and then the winners of the play-offs would join them. The EFL are not obliged to accept a second team coming up automatically.

Stevenage are currently at the foot of League 2 but relegation has not yet been confirmed. Macclesfield are facing a potential further points deduction and that might well leave them sitting bottom.

An EFL statement said: "Under the proposals agreed by clubs, the 24th placed club in the League Two will be relegated to the National League provided the Board receives the necessary assurances that the National League will start season 2020/21 (i.e. the relegated club in League Two has somewhere to play).”

The National League are confident of playing a 20/21 season and are expected to have a board meeting today (Friday) to formulate a proposal for clubs to vote on next week, as early as Monday.

If clubs don't back the league's proposal it would look at other options and that could include null and voiding the season in all three divisions of the National League, therefore ruling out all promotion and relegation.

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