Hartlepool United chief discusses decision to cancel National League season

Hartlepool United chief executive Mark Maguire says the long-term survival of clubs is more important than anything else.

Maguire was speaking after it was agreed to cancel the rest of the 2019-20 National League campaign, with all football currently suspended due to the coronavirus crisis.

Clubs were asked to vote and a clear majority, around 90 per cent, were in favour of ending this season early in a bid to give clubs some clarity, help plan for next season, provide clarity when it comes to contract decisions and make savings were necessary.

A further vote is to be held as to how to determine the outcome of the top three divisions in the non-league pyramid, with options such as deciding on a points per game basis put forward.

Reflecting on the decision, Maguire said: “We understood last week there was a majority in favour of ending the season.

“We were expecting this decision. The next question is how they conclude promotion and relegation.

“We had to go with the majority and understood the inevitable would happen.

“Everyone is trying to work with a plan, but there’s no clarity when people can get back together and train,” added Maguire, speaking on BBC Tees.

Earlier this week it was announced Pools were to take advantage of the Government’s job retention scheme and place players and staff members on furlough while there was no football.

With the 2019-20 campaign over, Pools finishing in 9th, clubs can start planning for next season in terms of season ticket sales, though there is no clear guidance yet as to when it will be possible to re-start football.

Maguire – who said the National League is in an ‘impossible position’ – added: “The main challenge is to understand when next season will start – that’s a huge part of income with season ticket sales.

“Financially that is more important than anything to us.

“The long-term survival of clubs is more important than anything else.”

Hartlepool United and other National League clubs saw their fixtures cancelled from March 16 onwards, but now face several more months without football as uncertainty reigns.

Earlier this week Pools confirmed, via the minutes of an HUFC Fan Forum, that there were no plans to go part-time next season or to drastically reduce the playing budget.

Boss Dave Challinor retains the final decision over which players will be offered new deals or not.

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