Leamington confirm they voted to end National League North season
The Brakes were enjoying what looked like being their best-ever campaign at Step 2
Leamington have confirmed that they voted to null and void the Vanarama National League North season.
In a statement released by chairman Jim Scott, it was confirmed that the Brakes voted to end the season, despite enjoying an excellent campaign which saw them sitting in ninth place when the outcome of the vote was confirmed last week.
The overall voted resulted in the National League North and South seasons being declared null and void for the second year in a row.
The major problem clubs were faced with was being told they would have to take up loans to complete the season without fans in grounds, despite them being led to believe grants would be provided like they were for the first three months of the campaign.
Scott admitted there had been a lot of “soul searching”done by the Brakes board before they reached their decision.
But insisted the crucial factor was ensuring they didn’t “ expose our club to considerable financial risks and costs”.
Scott said: “The decision was taken after much soul searching by the board of directors on the key issues of fulfilling the competition, health and safety surrounding the Covid pandemic, plus the ongoing financial security of the club.
“We believed that the protocols and measures taken throughout the competition thus far had been satisfactory to ensure the safety and well-being of players, staff and volunteers and were something that we could maintain, but were constantly keeping under review.
“Since taking that decision the news on vaccinations and their impact upon Covid-19 appears to be heading in the right direction.
“During the recent two-week suspension of the league, a significant number of clubs within the National League North and South indicated that they would refuse to play, until either Covid-19 testing was in place for all clubs or the outcome of funding from Sport England’s ‘Winter Survival Package’ was known, or both in some instances. This led to a significant loss of fixtures.
“During that same two-week window, following meetings between clubs and both the National League and Sports England representatives, it became clear that any future funding support to clubs would largely be in the form of loans with some grant funding available to clubs in the most critical need.
“It was also advised that outcomes of applications were likely to take three to four weeks in a best case scenario.
“It became clear that even if there was a vote to continue the season the reality was that there would not be a full return to completion of scheduled fixtures until the outcome of funding applications were known to individual clubs. Even then, there was considerable doubt in our minds whether clubs who were refusing to play, would do so.
“The impact of all this in our view was a likely extension of the league season thus incurring further players/staff costs for the additional weeks plus an expansion of the playing squad to deal with a congested fixture list.
“Player availability would undoubtedly be affected as all our players are part-time and their main jobs would clearly have to take precedence in these challenging times.
“Whilst we were extremely grateful to the National Lottery for the £10m cash injection to the National League which has allowed us to reach this point, it was also clear that there was financial risk to ourselves and many other clubs in a resumption of the league.
“Even at this stage there is still a lack of clarity whether clubs will breach league rules if loans are taken out through the Winter Survival Package.
“It was the decision of the Board of Directors that we cannot expose our club to considerable financial risks and costs as a consequence of the total uncertainty of matters outlined above.
“As it is, the club still has substantial financial obligations to meet for staff/players wages and operating costs in the months ahead. We are extremely grateful to the players and staff who have agreed to assist in some cost cutting measures.
“If the result of the voting had been in favour of a continuation of the season we would have honoured the decision to play.
“This would of course have necessitated a further review of all options, to ensure we did not place the club in financial jeopardy.
“We would like to thank all our fans and sponsors for your considerable support these past 12 months and without whom we would not have been able to navigate through these most difficult of times.
“The team management and playing staff have performed brilliantly in arguably what was going to be our best performance ever since joining the National League.
“A massive thank you to the media team who at very short notice, albeit with a couple of early glitches, pulled out all the stops in delivering a ‘streaming product’ that was the envy of many clubs within the league.
“Finally, I want to thank my fellow directors, staff and volunteers who have worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to allow football to take place, thus enabling our supporters to follow the team and providing a welcome outlet for so many of you.”