'A naivety from people who haven't got a clue!" Boston United manager Craig Elliott reacts to claims National League North is not elite sport

Pilgrims boss also calls for 'clarity and leadership' from league

Craig Elliott. Photo: Eric Brown

Craig Elliott has dismissed claims the National League North is non-elite sport, calling them 'nonsense'.

The Boston United manager has also called for 'clarity and leadership' as the Pilgrims' play-off hopes hang in the balance, branding the situation a 'shambles'.

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Ahead of Thursday's meeting where clubs from all three National League divisions were due to vote on the outcome of the season - teams from the National League North and South received an email suggesting their play-offs could not go ahead under government advice as step two of the pyramid was not deemed an elite sport by the Government.

The league's original proposal wanted all three divisions settled on a points per game basis, with the top sides in the North and South - King's Lynn and Wealdstone - promoted, with just one relegation from the National League, as opposed to four.

By Friday morning York City and Havant and Waterlooville, who would both finish second in their divisions on PPG, proposed amendments to promote the top two clubs from the North and South if play-offs cannot be held.

It has been suggested that York and Havant's proposals have been rejected by the league, but the option of play-offs - which would involve Boston, who would finish third on PPG - appear to be back on the table as the league awaits clarity from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

"It's obviously a naivety from people who haven't got a clue about this level of football," Elliott said of the non-elite tag.

"Everyone at this level realises it is elite. There are so many full-time clubs, I'd dare say 75-80 per cent (of players), probably more, their income is the main income which pays the bills.

"The standard of football as well. There are fantastic teams and players, and that's been proved in cup competitions. A lot of teams who have got promoted have gone into the Football League, so it's a bit of an insult really."

Elliott's Pilgrims held League One Rochdale - a side three divisions higher - to a goalless draw at Spotland in the FA Cup in December.

And the United boss believes that was by no means a fluke.

He added: "It's basically people who haven't got a clue about this level of football. It's not one-offs, this is over the years.

"You can look to a lot of examples, even Altrincham, from our league, taking Portsmouth to the last seconds of the game (also in the FA Cup this season).

"It's nonsense for me. We're part of the National League and, in my opinion, we are an elite league. We've got teams like York City who are full time. It's nonsense."

The fact that the National League, North and South are the only divisions yet to agree on how to complete the season hasn't been lost on Elliott either.

"It's forever changing, the information coming through. Again it's a shambles if I'm being honest," he said.

"It's ridiculous it's gone on this long and it's lacking clarity and leadership."

Elliott originally felt that the season should have been declared null and void. But believes that if play-offs are to go ahead, he would want his side to compete.

"My thoughts were always the season should be null and void," he told The Standard. "The fairest way to deal with football is on the pitch and if you can't do that it should be null and void.

"But saying that, if they go down PPG you can see why York are trying to fight to get things changed for their own benefits. But that seems to have stalled it (voting).

"At the end of the day, you're looking for leadership and people to make decisions and that's been lacking from day one really."

Elliott has previously spoken of his frustration that league rivals not involved in potential play-offs are able to begin planning for next season while United remain stuck in 'limbo'.

But admits that the ever-changing prospects of what might still happen this season are adding extra frustration.

He said: "It's got to the point that I'm sending messages to the players and then things change.

"This week I felt the play-offs weren't going to be on and then I woke up this morning and read a few things and listened to a podcast and potentially it's back on. My head's all over the place.

"We need somebody to take control but it's never happened and, yet again, it's dragged on. We're the last league in the country to get sorted and it's going to be really interesting to see what happens.

"I initially started planning and worrying about things, but now I'm taking each week as it comes. The situation is so unique and it's something you can't control."