Published: 19:35, 18 February 2021
| Updated: 20:22, 18 February 2021
Clubs in National League South and National League North have voted to declare their season null and void.
But clubs in the National League have voted to carry on playing - even though there is no guarantee of further grant funding to help complete the campaign.
The National League announced the results of the vote on Thursday evening.
It means the season is over for Dartford, Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United, Tonbridge Angels and Welling United. But it also means the campaign is not technically over yet for Dover Athletic - even though they pulled out of fixtures at the weekend and put their staff on furlough due to a lack of funds.
Dover chairman Jim Parmenter has 'funded the club for the past seven weeks after the initial government grant funding ended in December'. Mr Parmenter said he had been left with no option but to make the decision to prevent the club from becoming insolvent.
He said: “The club will be unable to fulfill further National League fixtures until appropriate funding is made available.”
Whites sit bottom of the National League with 10 points from 15 games but, with step 2 now being declared null and void, it means that relegation and promotion is unlikely to take place between those two divisions.
What punishment they face for not playing the fixtures, however, remains unclear with possible sanctions including fines and demotion, although Whites have indicated that they will contest such moves.
Speaking earlier this week, Mr Parmenter said: "I am sure we will be charged for not fulfilling our fixtures. But I think it is against league rules to take the league loans that are being offered at the moment, and equally it was the league that promised the funding when we started the season.
"So it is hard to see how the league can punish the club when the funding that the league promised has put the club in this problem. It will be an interesting debate when we get to that point."
Dartford were among the clubs who voted to continue and they sat second in National League South with 34 points from 19 games. Ebbsfleet were eighth with 28 points from 18 games, and they also wanted to carry on playing.
Reacting to the season being declared null and void, Ebbsfleet said in a statement: "The club is extremely disappointed with today’s outcome on behalf of our supporters, commercial sponsors, playing group and dedicated staff who have all worked extremely hard in planning for this season and performing throughout it to very high standards despite the regular interruptions.
"A great deal of work, time, resources and a substantial amount of care and commitment has been invested in this season to date and as we made clear in previous statements on the matter, our preference was for clubs who wanted to continue to be able to do so.
"We will digest and process this evening’s news – as you can appreciate there is much we have to scrutinise in the coming days – and we will weigh up all the repercussions to provide our supporters with another update, potentially early next week, on the club’s plans and further reaction to the league’s abandonment.
"As always, our thanks and thoughts are with all our fans and volunteers who have supported and stood by the club so brilliantly during this difficult season to date."
Maidstone and Tonbridge both wanted to stop, and both clubs put their squads on furlough this week as they looked to assemble teams of non-contract and loan players.
The Stones said they were 'devastated' to have had to make that decision, but added the lack of financial support during the pandemic had left them with no choice.
Stones boss Hakan Hayrettin said: "As manager of this club, I feel most for my players and staff and of course our fans. We have a great group of lads and I have an incredibly dedicated staff."
It was a similar situation for Tonbridge, who said at the weekend that putting their first-team squad on furlough had to be done.
Tonbridge chairman Dave Netherstreet said: “This is an extremely unfortunate situation, but we have no choice in the matter.
"The National League has failed to provide clear guidance for its clubs, but we need to preserve our status and as it stands this is the only way through. A number of other clubs are taking similar action.”
Welling last played on Tuesday night, a 4-3 home win over Ebbsfleet, which was not enough to lift them off the foot of the table. But it did provide former Gillingham boss Steve Lovell with his first win in charge of the Wings at the third attempt.
The first resolution which needed 75 per cent of votes to be passed saw 21 of the 23 clubs in the National League opt for clubs to decide their own fate at each step - hence ruling out resolution four.
The second resolution was for National League clubs to decide whether to carry on playing or not. Dover, Wealdstone and King's Lynn had already publicly declared that they voted to stop - but they were only joined by four others in the vote. A total of 13 teams want to carry on playing while Wales-based Wrexham abstained as they are not entitled to a loan from Sport England.
The third resolution was for National League North and South clubs to decide whether to carry on. It needed 22 clubs to agree on a direction in total.
In National League North, 15 teams wanted to stop the season with seven carrying on playing. In National League South, nine teams wanted to stop with 12 clubs voting to carry on. Therefore, the total of 24 clubs deciding to make the season null and void saw that motion passed.
The National League stated: "the board will take the resolution outcome to The Football Association for ratification. This will include dialogue regarding promotion and relegation."
In summary: Step One and Two to be split in deciding the outcome of 2020/21 Playing Season. As a Special Resolution, a voting percentage of 75% or higher was required to pass.
National League: (for) 21- (against) 0
National League North: 16-6
National League South: 9-12
As a result, Resolution Four is disregarded.
Resolution Two (National League only)
In summary: The National League 2020/21 Playing Season (Step One) to be declared null and void. A minimum 51% majority was required for Resolution Two to pass.
National League: 7-13
Result: Not Passed
As a result, the National League National Division will continue to operate for the remainder of the season.
Resolution Three (National League North and South only)
In summary: The National League North and South 2020/21 Playing Season (Step Two) to be declared null and void. A minimum 51% majority was required for Resolution Three to pass.
National League North: 15-7
National League South: 9-12
Resolution is passed and consequently the season at Step Two is null and void.
There are 2 votes from the National Division that have not yet been cast, however, the outcome of the resolutions cannot be affected by these votes, however they are cast.