National League suspends North and South divisions for two weeks

Gloucester City’s season has been put on hold for a fortnight, as The National League announced on Friday that it was suspending the North and South divisions.

A very brief statement on The National League official website read:

Following the review of the feedback from Clubs in connection to the recent Clubs meeting, a Board meeting this morning decided to halt the participation in the North/South Divisions for a two-week period, effective immediately.

As a result, tomorrow’s games are formally postponed.

National League statement – Friday 22 January 2021
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The suspension follows pressure from 12 National League North clubs and two sides in the National League South, who stated that they would not play again until an agreement was reached over funding for the remainder of the season.

The league started this season thanks to £10m in government grants. Now however, clubs are being offered loans instead of grants to continue playing.

This has brought worries about the financial implications of continuing to play the season behind closed doors, whilst taking on loans to cover costs because of Covid-19.

Clubs calling for the suspension also asked that the government and football authorities work together to solve the issue.

In a statement on Wednesday, Gloucester co-chairman Alex Petheram said “In my personal opinion, this is all purely about money, not Covid or even safety – just funding and money.

“For me, the season must be played to conclusion! ‘Elite sport’ is about winners and losers, not taking part. If the Olympics remove gold, silver and bronze medals and replace them with achievement merits, then my opinion on this might change.

“I accept clubs should not be forced into debt, as that’s very wrong given the initial promises. In fact the league may well have forced some clubs to trade insolvently! But to suspend the season or worse is just not an option!”

You can read the full statement below.