Frustrated Cox insists Poppies will not put club in jeopardy

The Kettering Town manager has been speaking about the uncertainty surrounding the National League North season
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox insists everyone at the club are united in their stance over the National League saga. Picture by Peter ShortKettering Town manager Paul Cox insists everyone at the club are united in their stance over the National League saga. Picture by Peter Short
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox insists everyone at the club are united in their stance over the National League saga. Picture by Peter Short

Paul Cox is hoping decisions on the future of the National League North season arrive sooner rather than later.

But he insists everyone at Kettering Town are united in their determination to protect the club.

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The Poppies haven’t kicked a ball in anger since their 3-0 defeat at Leamington in the fourth round of the Buildbase FA Trophy on January 19.and they haven’t played a league game since drawing 2-2 at Boston United on January 5.

After an initial two-week suspension of the National League North and South divisions, a number of clubs including Kettering have been unwilling to play due to the row over a lack of grants and the prospect of having to take out loans to keep them going for the remainder of the season while fans are now allowed in grounds.

It has meant the North division has come to almost a self-imposed halt while clubs vote on what should become of a campaign, which has been hampered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Poppies have voted in favour of the season being declared null and void but the vote has caused divisions between those clubs who want to stop and those of wish to continue.

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Either way, it’s not the season anyone hoped or planned for.

“I think the whole thing has been a farce from start to finish,” Poppies manager Cox said.

“It looks as though there are more clubs who are voting with their feet and are not willing to participate and yet we are still going to have to wait for an outcome.

“In all this time, clubs still have to pay money out and it adds more stress onto everybody.

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“I think the whole thing could have been dealt with in a better way but it looks like we are going to have to wait for it to come to a natural conclusion.

“It’s been frustrating and it’s getting more frustrating. I have talked to a lot of managers who are sat there not knowing how to plan and what to do because we are living from day to day.

“Everyone is trying to do the best they can but we need the people at the top to make big decisions and make them quickly. We need some guidance of where this is going to go.

“I have kept in touch with the chairman, the owner and the board and we are 100 per cent together in our stance that there should never be anything that should jeopardise the future of this club.

“We know the situation we are trying to build from.

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“I was lucky enough to play for the club near its peak when it was challenging at the top of what is now the National League with crowds coming in and the whole place buzzing.

“But what happened after that, no-one wants to see that happening to the club again.

“The board are doing what they feel is right to protect the future of the club.”

Almost forgotten in the shuffle are the Kettering players, many of whom are not being paid while matches aren’t taking place with the majority signed to the club on non-contract deals.

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But Cox insists he is doing what he can to keep the spirits up, even though he is unable to give them the answers.

“We are still in a pandemic,” Cox said.

“We all want to play football and we are all going to miss it if we have to stop but the logical step would be to close it down until we can get things up and open again and fans are allowed back in.

“It’s been a strange period and a lot has been talked about in terms of money but not so much about the health and well being of those playing the game.

“We are meant to be elite so why haven’t we been treated the same as other elite leagues?

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“The National League should have a board who are looking after the best interests of the teams who are in there but I am not too entirely sure that has happened.

“In situations like this, we should lose the term ‘footballers’ because we are dealing with people.

“We forget that these guys are normal people. I don’t think this is ‘elite’ at our level. Our players have got jobs and they haven’t been Covid tested.

“We have given them options of staying away but we are doing what we can to keep them ticking over because I feel I have a duty of care to make sure they are all okay.

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“Everyone is just looking for guidance and when the players look to me, I don’t have the answers.

“We are all waiting for direction and all I can do is be professional and as human as possible when it comes to giving the players care and attention.

“The last two weeks have been really strange and dragging it on is not good for the game at our level, no matter which way you look at it.

“It’s frustrating but what can we do? I think we all feel a bit let down by the people who should be making the big decisions.”