Notts County boss hoping for season to resume

Neal Ardley is hopeful that Notts County are able to play some form of play-off for promotion from the National League – but only if it is safe to do so.

The Notts County boss saw his side’s campaign brought to a close by the National League on Wednesday, when the League’s governing body declared the season over.

What happens to the standings and those in the promotion and relegation places is unclear, for now at least, with Notts one of the sides in the running for promotion to League Two.

The National League became the first League in the United Kingdom with professional football clubs in to bring their campaign to a close.

Notts, in third place and seven points off Barrow in first, have eight games remaining and a three point cushion to Yeovil Town in fourth place.

Ardley, who is back at his family home in the south, wants to see some form of play-off played if the government allow them to take place.

“I think first and foremost it is really important to say that anything that goes on, as far as any form of football is concerned, to bring all the seasons to a close has to be done if it is safe to do so and can only be done if it safe to do so,” Ardley told Nottinghamshire Live.

“Sometimes I feel like I am giving my response to a question and people think you’re not taking into consideration people’s safety.

“If the government’s guidelines allow people to go back to work and they say it is OK for people to play football providing certain measures are met, then at that point then yes of course from a fairness point of view you have to look at a play-off scenario and you have to give chances to the teams at the top of National League North and South.

“You have to give them a chance to conclude their season, the same in the National League and obviously then it’s not fair just to relegate teams in the bottom of the table.

“You have to find a way to give them chance to find a way to salvage their season or keep themselves up.

“There’s no ideal solution to this but if – and it’s a big if at the moment – the government say it is safe to do so, then realistically there shouldn’t be any reason why, within a three week-period, you can play some form of play-off scenario to bring the season to a conclusion.”

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Ardley doubled down on his thoughts that, as long as it is safe to do so, some form of conclusion should be reached for teams who are playing for something – be it relegation or promotion.

The manager is currently being occupied by a new family pet, a chocolate Labrador puppy, but his other time is clearly being taken up by more pressing matters like ensuring whatever happens in the future is fair.

“Absolutely 100 per cent it’s fair that you should try and come up with a way of concluding the season,” he said.

“I don’t believe it’s fair to null and void the season.

“I saw a comment someone sent to me the other day, suggesting to null-and-void the season but then having a play off between Barrow and Harrogate to see who gets the one spot to go into League Two.

“How can you have a team promoted from a null and void season?

“If it’s safe to have the one game, it’s safe to have five games.

“The argument doesn’t fit and if it’s not safe to play any football whatsoever in the next three, four or five months then of course at that point you may have to come to a conclusion that the season cannot be decided one way or the other.

“At that point there’s nothing anyone can do, but there’s no need to jump into that decision at this precise moment because the second point to this that there is a good chance – as we all know – that football fans won’t be going to matches at any point in the distant future, it’s more than likely going to be the back end of the year.

“You shouldn’t really be looking to start next season in August, because clubs simply could not afford to go three months without a fan at a game in lower levels.

“If that needs to be put back to give clubs a chance then at that point you need to be thinking about taking your time to get this part right.”

Ardley, who has been in regular contact with his players and is planning for next season in terms of budget, thinks the League were keen on making a decision sooner rather than later.

“I think the National League were determined to get this sorted quickly,” he concluded.

“They’ve obviously had some clubs who have mooted that this can’t go on and they need clarity.

“At that point they’ve pushed for this – but I don’t know the ins and outs of it all and I wouldn’t want to be making tough decisions at this point like these Leagues are having to.

“You look at the EFL and the Premier League, they’re all biding their time – there’s no point in keeping people updated with no update because none of us know.

“The government don’t know how safe it’s going to be to relax the rules and whether football comes into that category.”


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