07:00PM, Thursday 25 February 2021
Slough Town’s season is over after clubs voted in favour of cancelling the National League North and National League South divisions, declaring the final standings null and void.
The results of a series of resolutions were revealed by the league last Thursday, and as expected, clubs in the National League Premier division voted to carry on behind closed doors while clubs at step 2 opted to end the season with no promotion or relegation to or from the divisions.
Over the past couple of weeks, teams in all three divisions have been returning their votes on the resolutions.
The first, to enable clubs to vote on their own level, was approved by 16 clubs in the North division with six against.
While only nine were in favour of the resolution in the South division, the decision was passed with a clear majority.
At step 2, the National League North clubs were heavily in favour of cancelling the season, with 15 voting for and seven against. But in the South division, only nine clubs voted to null and void.
However, the vote was carried by 24 to 19 to bring a premature end to the campaign.
Reflecting on the vote, Slough Town boss Jon Underwood felt ‘relieved’ that a decision had finally been made on the league’s outcome after a long-drawn-out process.
“It’s been a difficult period for us really where we kind of expected that to be the outcome but you never know until all the votes are in,” he said.
“The whole process dragged out and we had to take that position where we refused to play which is a strange thing for a football club to have to do.
“However, we feel like we did the right thing and we stuck to our guns despite a lot of pressure to play from the league.
“It was probably a sense of relief when the decision, to null and void the season, was taken because it was the decision we needed as a club.
“Those clubs, that the result didn’t go for, are now making a fair bit of noise and trying to find a way that they can carry on. For us, we’re taking a backseat. We’ve said our bit, protected our club and what will happen now is down to the league, the FA, and everyone else. As far as I am concerned, we are done for the season.”
Given the season’s outcome, Underwood expects his team’s sanctions, for their refusal to play matches, to be revoked. The Rebels chose not to fulfil their fixtures over the past couple of months due to the absence of vital grant support for clubs and improved safety measures to protect players.
“We’ve been saying since day one, it’s the financial side and the safety side,” said Underwood.
“Now, clearly the safety is improving with every week and we’re not where we were in December in terms of the rate in infection. But the financial side is critical, and the club couldn’t afford to pay to play games with no income.
“The threat of fines is so counter-productive to that and the league was punishing clubs for not being able to afford to play by fining them money, which is crazy.
“I believe those charges for not playing games will be reviewed. My personal view, and certainly my hope, is that they realise we were put in that position [to not play matches] and that we won’t be handed any punishment.
“We just have to wait and see.
“You never know until these decisions are finalised, but I think common sense says we were right not to play meaningless games.”
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