National LeaguesNews

Simon Weaver responds to National League promotion scenarios

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver has responded to the latest speculation regarding how the issue of promotion from the National League will be decided.

It was announced last week that the vast majority of member clubs had followed the league board’s recommendation and voted to cancel all remaining regular-season fixtures in English football’s fifth and sixth tiers due to the coronavirus crisis.

The National League has since written to its 68 members asking them for their views on whether the 2019/20 play-offs should still take place.

Clubs have until Friday to respond, with the league then set to use the feedback that they receive to help them decide whether to postpone the play-offs until it is safe for them to take place, or cancel them all together.

It does however now appear that if the play-offs are scrapped, then there is a possibility that only one team may be promoted into League Two.

In addition, BBC Sport has reported that if the Football League (EFL) is unable to finish their season then they are likely not to relegate Stevenage (currently bottom of the table) and only accept one club from the National League.

A letter sent to member clubs by the National League said: ‘The current EFL position as outlined verbally to the National League and the FA is that if the National League completes its play-offs following the existing approved format and League Two completes its season, it is reasonable to assume the National League play-off winner can be promoted as the ‘National League runner- up’.

‘However, if either of these conditions were not fulfilled, it is quite possible that the promotion place for the play-off winner could be jeopardised.’

With Town second behind Barrow in the National League standings when the season was suspended, they would be among the biggest losers should the second promotion spot be scrapped.

Reacting to this development, boss Weaver said: “We’ve got to hope that our league doesn’t decide to cancel the play-offs or opt to null and void the season and also hope that League Two completes its fixtures.

“If the EFL seasons don’t finish then can I see them choosing to relegate Stevenage? I can’t see them doing that to one of their own members.

“We need the EFL to finish in order to get two teams up, so to potentially make any call on null and void prior to knowing what is happening with League Two’s season doesn’t make sense to me.

“Null and void appeared to be off the table. Now there seems to be a chance that it might be an option again, but I think it would come as a big surprise and a shock to a lot of clubs if that proves to the case.”

As far as the National League’s request for members’ views on whether the play-offs should be postponed or cancelled, Weaver admitted that he is struggling to understand the logic behind the order in which clubs are being asked to decide important matters.

“We’ve now got to decide on whether the play-offs are postponed or cancelled, but both myself and other people in the game who I’ve spoken to in recent days have been left dumbfounded by this,” he added.

“How can clubs be expected to make a decision on whether we should hold play-offs if they don’t know the options that will be coming next?

“Will the final standings be decided by the table as it is now or a points-per-game method? Take Barnet for example. If the season is determined by PPG then they would end up in a play-off spot instead of Stockport, so you’d expect that they would vote differently in that situation than if they end up where they are now, in 11th place.

“Teams need to know where they stand before they have to make a decision.”

Main Photo Credit: Matt Kirkham

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