National League nine want chairman to resign over distribution of bail-out cash
Nine National League clubs have called for the resignation of the governing body’s chairman, Brian Barwick.
The future of the National League and the two regionalised divisions one step down the pyramid had been placed into doubt after plans to allow spectators into grounds were shelved because of rising coronavirus cases in the UK.
However, a financial support package from the Government to the 67 member clubs was agreed to help compensate for essential revenue lost, which allowed the 2020-21 National League campaign to get under way on October 3 with matches behind closed doors.
On Friday, a group of nine clubs – AFC Fylde, Telford, Chester, Dulwich Hamlet, Hereford, Kidderminster, Maidstone, Dorking and Chesterfield – issued a joint statement hitting out at the distribution of the £10million bail-out.
Seven clubs in the National League – Notts County, Yeovil, Torquay, Wrexham, Chesterfield, Stockport and Hartlepool – were allocated £285,000 each over three months, regardless of average attendances from the past two seasons.
The remaining 17 were each awarded £252,000, some £84,000 per month.
There was also an unequal split through the National North and South clubs, with Maidstone, Dulwich, Hereford, York and Chester receiving £36,000 per month, while the rest have been given £30,000.
The disparity – with some clubs seeing an income of significantly more than they would have expected from regularly gate receipts and others far less – resulted in what has been seen as a conflict of interests from the National League board.
Spokesman for the group, Hereford chairman Andrew Graham, said there had been “no meaningful communication regarding our request for an independent panel review of the allocation” and insisted Barwick’s position was now untenable.
“This is an indefensible continuation of apparent disregard for the justified concerns we raise and it is for these reasons that we are left with no option other than to immediately call for the National League chairman Brian Barwick to resign and for an independent panel to be appointed to review this matter transparently and objectively,” Graham said.
The Hereford chairman added: “£10million has been handed to the National League thus far. This is a significant amount of money, for which we are extremely grateful.
“However, there has been unsatisfactory transparency over how funds were allocated and there are inexplicable inconsistencies, which amount to some clubs receiving five times as much in funding as others, per absent spectator.
“As a result, some of our clubs will now face income shortfalls, which may threaten their existence.
“Clubs should now be focusing on how to continue providing football facilities and entertainment for their communities, backed up by generous Government financing.
“Instead some clubs are facing financial turmoil, due to what appears to be the National League board’s serious errors of judgment in making unilateral, subjective decisions regarding distribution, which ignore Government guidelines and ignore the board’s conflicts of interest.
“Our clubs cannot let this pass unchecked, as it has resulted in some clubs now facing serious financial difficulty.”
The National League was not available for immediate comment when contacted by the PA news agency on Friday afternoon.