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Maidstone United among nine clubs calling for resignation of National League chairman Brian Barwick over distribution of National Lottery bail-out


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Maidstone United are among a number of clubs calling for National League chairman Brian Barwick to resign.

The group of nine, which comprises AFC Fylde, AFC Telford, Chester, Dulwich Hamlet, Hereford, Kidderminster, Dorking and Chesterfield, as well as the Stones, want Barwick to go over the league’s distribution of the £10 million National Lottery bail-out.

The Gallagher Stadium, home of Maidstone United
The Gallagher Stadium, home of Maidstone United

They have been in regular contact with the league, calling for an independent review after the board went against original plans, endorsed by the government, to allocate funds based on lost gate revenue.

This has not been forthcoming and they have now called for Barwick to go.

Group spokesman and Hereford chairman Andrew Graham said: “Despite rumours of matters being discussed at sub-committee level of the National League we have received no meaningful communication regarding our request for an independent panel review of the allocation.

“This is an indefensible continuation of apparent disregard for the justified concerns we raise and it is for these reasons that we are left with no option other than to immediately call for the National League chairman Brian Barwick to resign and for an independent panel to be appointed to review this matter transparently and objectively.”

A number of clubs - many outside the group of nine - have been left with serious shortfalls as a result of the distribution.

All bar seven clubs in the National League top flight were awarded £252,000 over three months - £84,000 a month - regardless of average attendances over the past two seasons.

The remaining seven - Notts County, Yeovil, Torquay, Wrexham, Chesterfield, Stockport and Hartlepool - were granted £285,000, which is £95,000 a month.

National North and South clubs were allocated £30,000 a month bar Maidstone, Dulwich, Hereford, York and Chester, who receive £36,000.

While many clubs benefit significantly, receiving way beyond what they would take in gate money, others are seriously impacted.

The group of nine feel there has been a conflict of interest at board level and cannot accept what’s happened, given it was made clear from the start that funding should be based on average attendance.

Talks have now reached a stalemate and Graham said: “We are aware of the method for determining the allocation of funds to NL clubs and are concerned that the outcome of this method does not represent the initial purpose of the funds, as stated by the Department for Culture Media & Sports.

“Given the absence of explanation and transparency regarding our concerns, and a refusal to date to correct what to us appear as unacceptable conflicts of interest at board level, a growing number of clubs who have been adversely affected by this action, have lost confidence in the leadership of the National League and its decision-making mechanism.

“£10 million has been handed to the National League thus far.

“This is a significant amount of money for which we are extremely grateful.

“However, there has been unsatisfactory transparency over how funds were allocated and there are inexplicable inconsistencies, which amount to some clubs receiving five times as much in funding as others, per absent spectator.

“As a result, some of our clubs will now face income shortfalls, which may threaten their existence.

“Clubs should now be focusing on how to continue providing football facilities and entertainment for their communities, backed up by generous government financing.

“Instead some clubs are facing financial turmoil, due to what appears to be the National League board’s serious errors of judgment in making unilateral, subjective decisions regarding distribution, which ignore Government guidelines and ignore the board’s conflicts of interest.

“Our clubs cannot let this pass unchecked, as it has resulted in some clubs now facing serious financial difficulty.”

Read more: The latest sports news in Kent

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