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Relegation not yet certain for Ebbsfleet United as they await confirmation of National League North and South play-offs taking place

Ebbsfleet United face an anxious wait to see whether they are to be relegated.

If the play-offs in National League North and South take place - and Dartford are already preparing for them - then they would be facing relegation after finishing the season third bottom in the National League on a points per game calculation.

Ebbsfleet United chief exec Damian Irvine Picture: ebbsfleetunited.co.uk
Ebbsfleet United chief exec Damian Irvine Picture: ebbsfleetunited.co.uk

Clubs in those play-off places will now await the guidelines and protocols that they have to adhere to in order to compete.

King’s Lynn Town (National League North) and Wealdstone (National League South) have both been promoted automatically to the National League. A second team can only be promoted through a play-off campaign, according to the league’s current rules, as opposed to an additional automatic place.

If the play-offs are played, and that’s the current plan, the Fleet will almost certainly go down. If there are no play-offs then the league could propose another amendment to the rules, promoting a second team automatically.

The one thing the National League have been certain on is that there must be 24 clubs in the division once everything is done and dusted.

But right now, Fleet have no clear idea of what will happen.

Fleet chief exec Damian Irvine said: “The club continues to seek further clarity from the National League in terms of what league we will be in next year.

“The resolution (which clubs voted through on Wednesday night) is relatively unchanged from last week, the difference being last week the intent was not to play the play-offs in South and North, whereas this week’s resolution has clearly changed to trying to play them.”

The National League resolution, which was passed, states that the play-offs are “subject to the Government’s Coronavirus (Covid-19) Guidance on Phased Return of Elite Sport.”

And adds: “The National League shall remain comprised of 24 clubs for season 2020/21 and to that end the number of clubs to be relegated from the National League shall equal the number of clubs required to maintain the maximum number of step 1 clubs after any relegation from EFL League Two, promotion to EFL League Two and promotion from North and South.”

Fleet dropped a place to third from bottom in the National League on an unweighted points per game mathematical basis dropping below Maidenhead. The difference on PPG was 49.632 to Fleet’s 49.538.

That fractionally difference means it’s Ebbsfleet now in a potential relegation place.

A club statement, published on their website prior to the league vote been declared, noted that: "The wording of the resolution means that should play-offs take place in those divisions, four clubs would be promoted under the rules, meaning unfortunately we would probably be relegated.

"Whether play-offs take place, if the resolution is passed (which it was), will depend on the league rules and stipulations around those matches, the costs and risks involved both financially and to people’s health and safety, and of course whether they can he held under Government stage 1 and 2 ‘return to play’ protocols."

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