AFC Fylde have made a statement over what they describe as the ‘hypocrisy’ of fellow Step 2 clubs.
The ongoing situation regarding available financial support for clubs to continue the season during the absence of supporters has split opinion between clubs, with the issue of safety for players and staff also cited.
Earlier this week, a joint-statement was released by 15 clubs in the National League North and South, which said that clubs unable to commit to fixtures should ‘continue to have their season held in suspense by the league and do so without fear of sanctions.’
Fylde, whose next game is scheduled to be against Guiseley, have now said: “Subsequent to the joint-statement made last night by a minority of clubs in the National League North and South, AFC Fylde would like to issue the following statement regarding this weekend’s fixture against Guiseley AFC and address the hypocrisy of the joint-statement published on Wednesday evening. On the morning of Wednesday, 3rd, February, we were informed by Guiseley AFC that they would be unable to fulfil our fixture this Saturday.
“We received this news in light of a Zoom meeting between all member clubs of the National League North and South on the eve of Tuesday, 2nd, February. A joint-statement signed by Guiseley AFC was published on Wednesday, 3rd, February, that stated clubs were in support of the re-commencement of the season, ‘but only when there is a fully-funded Covid testing programme in place and the safety of their players is guaranteed.’
“At no point during Tuesday’s call did any of the 17 clubs express their concerns around Covid testing, nor did they voice any issues regarding the safety of players. After being made aware of the joint-statement, AFC Fylde Football Club reached out to Guiseley AFC to understand their position regarding our fixture this weekend, to which they confirmed they were not able to fulfil the fixture.
“We then made further contact to provide reassurances around safety and diminish any concerns by offering to fund an in-house lateral flow testing programme for all Guiseley AFC players and staff. After further discussion, Guiseley AFC informed us that the decision to withdraw from Saturday’s fixture was unrelated to safety and was, in fact, for financial reasons.
“As it stands, two of the teams who are signatories to Guiseley’s joint-statement are prepared to play in their FA Trophy fixtures this Saturday, but have the hypocrisy to declare themselves unavailable to fulfil their league fixtures on the following Tuesday. We are astounded that when prize money and an opportunity to progress in an FA competition is at stake, those clubs deem it safe to compete.
“We strongly believe the picking and choosing of which fixtures to fulfil is a slap in the face of those fighting to continue. Clubs, such as ourselves, are doing everything in their power to overcome each obstacle that presents itself, while others aren’t.
“We sincerely hope that the National League take a tough line on those taking this stance, as we believe cherry-picking which fixtures to fulfil is bringing the game into disrepute and severely damaging the integrity of the competition.”