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Coronavirus Kent: National League side Ebbsfleet United want the 2019/20 season to be declared null and void

Ebbsfleet United have declared that they are in favour of the National League being finished immediately.

The club sit fourth from bottom in the table but would slip into the bottom three if the league was decided on points per game, sending them down to National South.

Ebbsfleet United in action against Stockport County Picture: Sean Aidan
Ebbsfleet United in action against Stockport County Picture: Sean Aidan

Extending the season is a no-go, they say, as the playing squad would be out of contract at the end of the month.

It is a similar argument put forward by National League South side Maidstone United, who are also in favour of ending the season now, with a squad who are also contracted on 44-week basis, meaning they will be free to walk away in May.

Stones co-owner Oliver Ash said last week that “anybody who thinks it should be revived hasn’t got a sufficient dose of reality.”

The National League is currently suspended indefinitely but in regards to starting up again later, Fleet say: “We would somehow need to go to market and retain and recruit an entire squad for eight matches to be played at a point in the future that no-one at this present time has any certainty around. There are far too many variables.

“There are a number of other impediments to this also such as player contract law, financial feasibility, etc.

“If it was determined that no football would take place until August 1st, for example, and the first eight matches would be a finalisation of this current season, how would that in any way be palatable given squads will probably look very different and essentially have been built for the 2020/21 season? You can’t have the final crucial matches of a season battled out by new squads.”

The statement goes on to clarify Fleet’s current view that they are in favour of the season being declared null and void, with no promotion or relegation, although they do add that they would be in favour of a team being promoted to make up the numbers in the EFL.

The demise of Bury in the summer means the Football League are running a team short. The natural assumption would be that National League leaders Barrow would then be promoted.

Fleet say: “Often during times of crisis the most obvious and simple solutions are the best and most probable outcome. For this reason we feel that a cancellation of the 2019/20 season is the most sensible, workable and fair option.

“In saying that, a cancellation cannot be qualified, it cannot be cancelled only to have final finishing places decided and promotion and relegation taking place. A season is either cancelled or it isn’t.”

Fleet believe a fourth from bottom finish would have kept them up, with three going down, but if the league was decided on points per game they would swap places with Maidenhead, the team below them.

They aren’t in favour of this outcome being used to finish the season.

The statement added: “To attempt to determine promotion and relegation places based on formulas and applying other calculations without all matches of the draw being played out, in a sport where home advantage, travel requirements, form changes, and the traditional all-important run-in towards the ‘Jeopardy’ of the final match of the season, would in our opinion totally undermine the integrity of the league and competition.

“A cancellation of 2019/20 season, and reboot with the same teams in the league for 2020/21 is in our view the fairest and most logical, common sense solution.

“A moratorium on promotion and relegation and cancellation of the season in full is the best and most tangible way to provide a semblance of certainty and a foundation for the clubs and leagues to rebuild and recover from these surreal times.”

Fleet, meanwhile, are using the government’s job retention scheme to furlough staff. Dover Athletic have done the same and the Kent FA have furloughed 14 of their staff on the same scheme.

Ebbsfleet say they are “making an effort to continue to cover 100% of everyone’s wage.”

And they could be helped after the Premier League agreed to advance EFL and National League clubs £125m in total.

Fleet said: “[That could) potentially be hugely helpful to all National League clubs like ours depending on how it is allocated, we await the detail with great interest.

“Credit must be given where due and we hope football fans at all levels acknowledge this funding offer.”

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