Nine National League clubs have officially called for National League chairman Brian Barwick to resign.
A letter signed by outgoing Hereford chairman Andrew Graham, on behalf of the Bulls, plus AFC Fylde, AFC Telford United, Chester, Dulwich Hamlet, Kidderminster Harriers, Maidstone United, Dorking Wanderers and Chesterfield, reads:
We welcome intervention by the DCMS, the FA and The National Lottery to compensate National League clubs for lost gate receipts due to fans being prevented from attending matches, indeed we are exceptionally thankful for the intention of this generosity. It remains a fact that it is on this basis that we agreed to start the 2020/21 season and thereby trigger contractual obligations. However, we were disappointed to learn two weeks ago that the National League had decided to allocate these funds based on a subjective judgement of clubs’ needs and not based on lost gate receipts.
Since then many of our clubs have been in continuous communication with the NL Chairman Brian Barwick, regarding how the distribution method was decided; why the National League Board rejected Government guidelines on using funding to compensate lost gate receipts; whether National League Board members have been allowed to take a decision that directly affects their own clubs financially, appearing to breach their own Articles of Association in so doing, and why we believe that an independent panel should now be appointed urgently, to review the whole matter.
Talks have now reached a stalemate, and the aggrieved clubs’ spokesperson, Andrew Graham, Chairman of Hereford FC, states: “We are aware of the method for determining the allocation of funds to NL clubs and are concerned that the outcome of this method does not represent the initial purpose of the funds, as stated by the Department for Culture Media & Sports. Given the absence of explanation and transparency regarding our concerns, and a refusal to date to correct what to us appear as unacceptable conflicts of interest at board level, a growing number of clubs who have been adversely affected by this action have lost confidence in the leadership of the National League and its decision-making mechanism.
Graham stated: “£10 million 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.
“Despite rumours of matters being discussed at sub-committee level of the National League, we have received no meaningful communication regarding our request for an independent panel review of the allocation. 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.
“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.”