Published: 06:00, 03 February 2021
Uncertainty still surrounds the future of the National League season.
The National League distributed resolutions to member clubs on Monday evening to consider the outcome of the 2020/21 season.
Clubs in National League South and North have had their season paused for a fortnight while discussions continued with DCMS over the possibility of turning the second tranche of converting government assistance from loans into grants.
Last week the Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston re-iterated the government’s stance that further funding would initially be in the form of loans.
That position has not changed and, perhaps belatedly, the National League started an online petition on Monday to put pressure on the government to change their mind. The petition only had around 6,000 signatures on Tuesday evening.
The waters are further muddied as the resolution sent to clubs by the league allows clubs to take up to 28 days to return their votes under league rules, unless the majority numbers are reached before that date.
The resolution is formed of four parts - one special resolution and three ordinary resolutions based on the outcome of the first.
The special resolution needs 75 per cent of votes to be passed and effectively decides whether the National League will be treated as a whole in the next vote or whether they will decide to null and void on a step by step basis.
If enough clubs vote to let the divisions decide their fate independent of each other then every club will get an equal vote. If not, then National League clubs get an individual vote and clubs at National League North and South level get one vote per six under league rules.
All other votes only require a more than 50 per cent majority to be passed.
That means across National League South and North, a total of 22 clubs would need to vote in favour of making the season null and void.
A total of 16 clubs have publicly declared that they would vote null and void, while other clubs including Tonbridge Angels have said they are not willing to continue without funding via grants rather than loans.
That means that a null and void option looks most likely for these clubs, despite teams including Ebbsfleet keen to conclude the campaign.
However, if clubs do not decide to vote on a step basis then it means that National League North and South will have to continue if clubs in the National League also want to carry on.
Under that resolution, it would need 16 votes from the 31 available for the season to be declared null and void across all three divisions. The figure of 31 includes one vote for all teams in the National League but one vote per six for the two divisions below them.
As it stands, clubs in National League South and North are due to return to action this weekend, albeit the games may yet prove meaningless. In NLS, Dartford host Welling, Ebbsfleet United visit Bath while Tonbridge Angels host Hampton & Richmond. Dover Athletic are set to welcome Hartlepool United in the National League.