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Adams: 'Rule breakers should expect to be penalised'

Maidenhead United CEO Jon Adams said that any club flouting the league’s rules should expect to be penalised after Dover Athletic were docked 12 points for next season and fined £40,000 by the National League.

Adams admitted the punishment would be ‘challenging’ for the south coast club, which opted against continuing to play matches behind closed doors without grant support for financial reasons.

The club’s chairman, Jim Parmenter, has said the club can’t afford to pay the fine and reiterated that they had taken that course of action to prevent Dover from becoming insolvent.

On Friday afternoon the National League announced its range of sanctions for clubs at steps 1 and 2 who have refused to fulfil fixtures. While the National League North and South leagues have since been terminated, the National League Premier voted to play on with Dover’s results having now been expunged.

“The reality is that the Dover situation is different to the other teams in the league,” said Adams.

“Every other team is still playing, and the majority of clubs feel, given that we’ve all accepted public money at the beginning of the season, that we still have an obligation to see the season through to the end.

“That’s challenging for us because we all started with the expectation that funding would be available in the form of grants. Clearly that’s not come to fruition but that doesn’t mean we haven’t received a significant investment from the public purse.

“We felt obligated to continue and see the season through to its conclusion and Dover have obviously taken a different viewpoint on that and we don’t think it was the right decision or the right course of action.

“They should have waited at least until we knew what the outcome of the vote was, and when the vote was to continue with the season under the rules they were obligated to continue to play. If you don’t operate within the rules, then the likelihood is that the club is going to be penalised.”

Adams added that every other team in the National League has continued to play, having received a ‘significant contribution from the public purse to do so’, and added that Dover’s fine from the league is also significantly less than the costs other teams have incurred for playing on behind closed doors.

United have had to apply for a long-term, low interest loan from Sport England, to see them through to the end of the season, something they expect they’ll be able to pay off over the course of the next few seasons, provided they’re prudent.

“I think the financial sanctions are obviously challenging, but then the reality is that you could argue that’s a much lighter sanction than all of the other clubs have had to continue to play and pay wages without income. It has two sides to it.

“The costs of continuing to clubs is significantly more than the level of fine they’ve received (£40,000). The reality is that by taking the course of action they’ve taken they will be the least financially impacted by the current position.

“That’s for Dover to take that decision, it’s not for us to influence them, but, by the same token, we all operate within the league’s rules and it’s not one rule for one team and others for other teams.

“We’re obligated to see the league through to fruition and clubs are adopting different approaches to achieve this, but no other club has stopped playing other than Dover.”

Adams added that he has more sympathy for teams like Slough Town in step 2, who refused to play matches prior to the campaign being declared null and void, however, he argued that they should have continued playing while the outcome of the vote was unknown.

“You could argue that the National League should have addressed the situation more quickly,” he said. “It’s possible to criticise everybody in this and that’s the challenge.

“Certain clubs took the decision to stop playing and they did so before any decision had been made in relation to the league.

“We operate within a league that has defined rules and there are rules for not fulfilling fixtures, and, whilst its harsh financially to have fines imposed within this climate, and particularly when we know that decision is not disadvantaging anyone else within the context of their league.

“There’s now no implications to it, which makes it different to the Dover situation where there are implications,” he added.

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