Published: 06:00, 26 February 2021
The season is over for Maidstone United and co-owner Oliver Ash has called for the immediate resignation of the National League board.
Ash is furious with the league’s handling of the distribution of grant payments - claiming the Stones lost out on £100,000 worth of funding - and over the way they’ve managed the 2020/21 season and its early conclusion. Clubs voted in favour of null and voiding the campaign.
Maidstone had put a side together - made up of loaness, youngsters and others - to play for nothing after their senior players were put on furlough. They were not needed after a majority of clubs on a weighted vote agreed to stop play in National League North and South. The National League - the top-tier - will play on but Dover Athletic are refusing to continue, and they could soon be joined by King’s Lynn.
Mr Ash spoke to supporters at length following the vote and was scathing towards the board of directors on the National League, particularly chairman Brian Barwick.
He said the league was “still in chaos” after the vote and that: “I think ultimately the FA, who are the governing body, despite the fact that they are embroiled in this mess should dismiss the chairman, the vice chairman, the entire board of directors and that should be immediate.
“They should supervise the holding of urgent elections for a new board for an interim period of 12 months. (They should) appoint a chairman with an unblemished record of governance of not just football organisations but governance in general and a respect for matters of governance, in fairness and in ethics that have been lacking for the past few months.”
The vote to end play or play on proved to be a divisive one. Both Maidstone and Tonbridge Angels put new sides together but both called for an end to the season as grant funding had been replaced by loans from December.
Other Kent sides Dartford and Ebbsfleet wanted to carry on.
Ash said: “Each club operates selfishly and is prepared to ignore principles when self interest doesn’t correspond to them. When I hear ‘football family’ to try and describe clubs as a collection it always grates. We certainly didn’t see much evidence of a family looking after each other when we got screwed by the league back in October with the funding allocation. Hardly any clubs offered sympathy or support.
“A few did and with whom the Stones have developed friendships and meetings of mind and principles in recent months and that includes Dulwich, Telford, Chester, Fylde, Hereford and Dorking among others.”
Mr Ash wants the National League to issue the full independent report into how grant funding was allocated from October to December. The money was supposed to be there to cover lost gate receipts and distributed accordingly.
The Stones chief said: “This is a season where we all lose. In terms of money we have lost £100,000 from the October grant allocation.
“We calculated what the funding allocation would have been had the National League adopted the lost gate receipts basis for a distribution. It is what the government specifically advised. This hurts the accounts.
“We don’t subsidise the club, Terry (Casey, co-owner) and I, we only loan the club money under exceptional short-term circumstances so we are £100,000 down.”
The vote to end the season was announced on Thursday night.
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.”
There were actually more clubs in National League South that wanted to play on, voting 12-9 in favour of continuing the season, but in National League North 15 teams wanted to stop the season with seven preferring to carry on playing. With 24 teams in total between the divisions opting to stop play, the resolution to null and void the season was passed.
The National League vote needs to be ratified by the Football Association.