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“Saturday could end up being our last home game of the season.” – Linnets chairman Stephen Cleeve

todayJanuary 28, 2021 7

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Stephen Cleeve believes National League clubs will pull the plug on the current season unless a quick solution can be found to the ongoing cash crisis.

The King’s Lynn Town chairman is still clinging to the hope that funding for clubs will come in the form of a grant, but fears the worst as every day passes.

The clock continues to tick and Cleeve thinks Saturday’s clash against Wrexham could yet be Lynn’s last home game of the current campaign.

King's Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve.. (36853323)
King’s Lynn Town chairman Stephen Cleeve.. (36853323)

He said: “There is still the possibility that there could be a pathway to apply for a grant from Sport England.

“But if grants for clubs are unavailable and there is only the option of taking on a loan then the league will finish.

“Come February, if I’m told there are no grants available that’s it as far as we’re concerned, we’ll have to stop.

“I’m exhausting all enquiries to try to get some funding and, like us, some clubs are prepared to give it a couple more weeks.

“I’ll pay the players this week and next week but after that we’ll have to stop playing unless any support is forthcoming.”

The futures of the National League and its two regionalised divisions were thrown into serious doubt when the Government, who had provided a £10million rescue package in October, said any future funding would have to be in the form of loans rather than grants.

Last week, all 66 clubs across the three divisions were given the option of taking an individual loan from the Government, taking a centralised loan from the National League, or cancelling the season.

A large number of clubs, including half of the National League North, chose the third option and called for the league to be scrapped – leading to a two-week suspension of the North and South sections.

Yesterday, sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: “The National League has already benefited from the Government support schemes through a £10m Government-brokered cash partnership with the National Lottery.

“With precious public money, we are providing support to the National League in the form of loans.”

A quick solution still looks unlikely and the BBC has reported that the National League will speak with clubs this week regarding a vote if the current season should be ended.

“I’ve already spoken to some owners who have categorically said that they are not going to play anymore this season,” said Cleeve.

“My gut feeling is that the National League North and South will finish and, if that’s the case, you then have to ask yourselves is it worth the National League itself continuing if there is no promotion or relegation.

“Saturday could end up being our last home game of the season. If we can’t compete then we need to sit it out on the sidelines until we can.”

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