Finger of blame points towards National League Board, says Poppies chairman Mahoney

Kettering Town chairman David Mahoney has been reflecting on the news that the National League North season has been declared null and void

By Jon Dunham
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 12:00 pm
Kettering Town chairman David Mahoney. Picture by Peter Short
Kettering Town chairman David Mahoney. Picture by Peter Short

Kettering Town chairman David Mahoney believes it’s difficult to point the finger of blame at anyone else apart from the National League Board after the North and South divisions were declared null and void for the 2020/21 season.

After weeks of uncertainty for clubs at Step 2, the results of the National League vote were revealed at the end of last week with the North and South divisions ending immediately while the National League at Step 1 will continue.

The much-publicised problems for non-League’s top two tiers came about after clubs were told they would need to take on loans to see out the season after they had been led to believe grants would be provided as they were for the first three months of the season.

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The issues have seen arguments and ill feeling erupt between those clubs at Step 2 who wanted to carry on and those who wished to stop while the National League and Department for Culture, Media and Sport have been blaming each other for the miscommunication.

The Poppies voted in favour of null and void with Mahoney and his fellow directors adamant that they would not take on any loans and put the future of the club in jeopardy.

So, where does the blame for this fiasco lie?

“The simple fact is that it was the League’s Board that has led the way and, in reality, it's hard to point the finger of blame at anyone else,” Mahoney said.

“They may have worked with other organisations but they represent us and they provided updates and guidance to us.

“I have said repeatedly that there isn’t a book that we can all look at to see what the next course of action should be and sadly I don’t think we’ve created one, God forbid this ever happens again.

“Once things have settled down, I think we do need a post mortem to establish exactly what happened and why. If that results in a restructure of the board, then so be it.”

The null and void outcome has enraged a number of clubs, including Gloucester City and AFC Fylde in the North and even more in the South, who wanted to play on.

In the wake of last week’s decision, an open letter was sent to the National League by 18 clubs demanding the resumption of the season in some format.

And while Mahoney has no issue with those clubs wanting to play on, he believes their efforts will be fruitless.

“We totally respect the desire of every club that wants to carry on but I honestly can’t see it happening,” the Poppies chairman added.

“We all took part in a vote, albeit offering restricted options, and the outcome was that the season should be null and void.

“Sadly I suspect a precedent was set last season when we ultimately reached the same conclusion.

“It’s just a shame that no-one realised that a secondary grant for January to March would probably have seen the season finish, as by then gates would have hopefully been opened and fans allowed in.

“Likewise any club that can continue without grants surely didn’t need them from October to December, so those funds could have been distributed across the clubs that needed them and who knows, the season may have continued.”