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National League South games suspended for two weeks

All National League South games have been suspended for two weeks with immediate effect.

It means Dartford, Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United, Tonbridge Angels and Welling United have had their season halted.

Maidstone in action against Dartford in National League South earlier this season - both teams have now had their games suspended for two weeks. Picture: Keith Gillard
Maidstone in action against Dartford in National League South earlier this season - both teams have now had their games suspended for two weeks. Picture: Keith Gillard

A statement from the National League said: "Following the review of the feedback from clubs in connection to the recent clubs meeting, a board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South divisions for a two-week period, effective immediately.

"As a result, tomorrow's games are formally postponed."

There has been no comment from the National League about games in their top division.

The season only got under way in October after the government agreed that funding would be in place.

The initial £10million came via the National Lottery to the league but it was not divided up on the basis of gate receipts, which is what the government said should happen in September.

Speaking in the House of Commons on September 30, Nigel Huddleston MP, the Minister for sport, said: "The government support needs to go to those in most need and therefore the criteria will be focused on gate receipts."

Instead, the National League devised a split which saw National League clubs Chesterfield, Hartlepool, Notts County, Stockport, Torquay, Wrexham and Yeovil receive £95,000 a month, with the 16 other clubs receiving £84,000.

In National League North and South, the majority of clubs got £30,000 a month, although Chester, Dulwich Hamlet, Hereford, Maidstone and York received £36,000.

The second trance of funding came via the government's Sport Winter Survival Package but the money was available as loans rather than grants.

That led the league to offer three options to clubs earlier this week - loans for clubs, loans to the league who then distribute to clubs, or suspend the season.

The majority of clubs in National League South and North have opted to suspend the season - 12 clubs in National League North issued a statement saying they wanted to stop while Tonbridge, Concord, Havant and Slough were among teams in National League South to publicly say they wanted games suspended.

It gives the National League time to continue talks with DCMS in a hope that the funding can be converted to grants rather than loans. But if that is not forthcoming it looks like the National League South season could be over.

The delay means that new Welling manager Steve Lovell - the former Gillingham player and boss - has still not taken charge of a game since replacing Bradley Quinton at Park View Road.

Lovell's first game was scheduled to be last weekend against Tonbridge but that match was called off due to Covid. The Wings were due to be at Hungerford on Saturday.

Dartford sit top of National League South and were due to visit Dulwich on Saturday. Ebbsfleet were scheduled to be at home to Chelmsford and Maidstone were away to St Albans.

Read more: All the latest sports news in Kent

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