Brackley boss Wilkin 'disappointed' as season is halted

The National League North season was suspended at the end of last week - just 24 hours before Brackley Town were supposed to travel to Boston United

Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 7:39 am
Updated Wednesday, 27th January 2021, 7:42 am
Brackley Town manager Kevin Wilkin

Brackley Town boss Kevin Wilkin admitted to being “disappointed” after the Vanarama National League North season was halted last week..

The row over the Winter Survival Package blew up at the end of last week as, 24 hours before Brackley’s trip to Boston United, the National League Board suspended the North and South divisions for a fortnight after they reviewed feedback from clubs

It had earlier emerged that £11m of government funding to help Step 1 and 2 clubs through the next three months would be in the form of loans instead of grants like they had received through National Lottery funding in October, November and December.

Clubs had been expecting grants rather than loans following discussions, which were held in a bid to get the season started without fans last year.

It prompted the National League to offer out three options to their clubs - the operation of a club loan process, the operation of a National League loan or the suspension of the season.

With a number of clubs expressing their anger at having to take on debt to complete a season, which will see no income with fans not allowed into grounds due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems the majority of teams in the North and South divisions were in favour of suspending the season to allow further time to find a way forward.

A number of clubs also confirmed even before the suspension that they would not play their scheduled fixtures last weekend and it was later revealed that the idea of the league taking on a loan had been withdrawn, which means a deal will need to be struck with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to sort out grants if the season is to progress.

“Like everybody, we are disappointed it has come to this stage,” Brackley boss Wilkin said.

“It’s easy to be critical with hindsight but, for me, there were questions there that should have been asked and answers established long before now to ensure we didn’t find ourselves in this position.

“Whether the money is a grant or loan is a question that should have been nailed down.

“People are paid to do the job and get these things organised and when we don’t know if it’s a loan or a grant and we end up in this position, it’s pretty disappointing really.

“And I am not sure what the benefit of the two weeks will be to be honest.

“Certainly last weekend, we were ready to play Boston and they were ready to play us and both clubs wanted to continue.

“I am not really sure why that was cancelled because it was another game that would have been out of the way.

“The problem with suspending the league is that it puts a further backlog on games that need to be played and we will soon be a case of, even if there is a resolution, whether we can physically fit all these games in, which is another hurdle to overcome.

“They could have allowed the clubs who wanted to, to carry on. I think it’s another poor decision but I am sure there are reasons why they did what they did and we just have to deal with it.”