06:00PM, Thursday 25 March 2021
The FA has torpedoed clubs’ hopes of creating a mini-league at step 2 following the premature conclusion of the National League North’s and National League South’s season.
The campaigns were cancelled and declared null and void after the majority of clubs at those levels, including Slough Town, voted in favour of it.
Several clubs in the North and South divisions had hoped to come together to create their own mini-league, thereby maintaining the possibility of promotion to the National League Premier division.
However, the FA said this week ‘the Committee did not consider that the proposed competition to be in the interests of the integrity of the National League system’.
Additionally, the statement read: “The Committee also took note of the fact that whilst a majority of clubs within step 2 expressed support for the competition, only 35% of clubs indicated that they would take part; and the majority of step 1 clubs voted against the competition and promotion to step 1.”
Having endured a season of financial and safety ambiguity, Rebels boss Neil Baker told the Express this week that his side were ‘no way’ interested in being a part of the proposed competition.
“As a club, we have been consistent throughout and stressed our opinions on why we didn’t want the season to carry on,” he said. “It’s been horrific from day one in terms of managing the financial and safety side of things.”
“Those clubs that have wanted to carry on, we have absolutely zero problems with and we totally get it. There are some that have spent a lot of money to get to where they are so you can’t begrudge anyone for trying to think outside the box.
“However, there was no way we were ever going to turn around and decide to be a part of that mini-league.
“Unfortunately, it was always going to be difficult to get it approved because you have to get the National League Premier teams to agree. It’s turkeys voting for Christmas.
“I think it was going to be difficult in terms of how they wanted to structure it. It might have got more credence if they started on the same number of points and in a new league set up for 18 teams to play each other once.
“The whole weighting of things probably wasn’t the right way to go about it. As soon as they started to talk about points being weighted, I knew it wouldn’t lift off the ground.
“They should have looked to start everyone on zero points and put everyone in the same boat.
“I understand that wouldn’t have sat well with a few teams who have done well, but that season was declared null and void anyway.”
With the new season pencilled in to start on August 14, Baker believes it is integral supporters will be allowed to return to grounds which will financially aid non-league teams and give their players a moral boost from the sidelines.
Should fans not be permitted to attend matches, the Rebels boss has fears clubs won't have the resources to play or make it through the season.
“The main thing for me next season, is having fans back in. If they aren’t allowed, we won’t be playing again next season. There is no question about that,” he said.
“Not having them there last year definitely had an effect on how we played and operated as a club. But we’re looking to forget that season and ensure the forthcoming one is much improved.
“It’s been a tough time in non-league football and for me it’s just about being positive for next season and looking forward to it.”
Police were called to the River Thames between Cookham and Bourne End yesterday at about 3pm, to reports that a teenage boy had entered the water but hadn’t been seen to leave.