Clubs have ‘moral obligation’ to complete National League season, says Boston United chairman David Newton

Pilgrims issue statement following funding meeting...

David Newton.

Boston United chairman David Newton believes clubs have a ‘moral obligation’ to complete the National League season.

Representatives from the 66 member clubs met with Government representatives and Sport England today, to learn of the loan and grant funding being made available.

The National League North and South are currently suspended until February 6 and 17 sides have issued a statement declaring they want to casmpaign to be curtailed before then.

"Further to receiving the letter from Nigel Huddleston MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, sent on behalf of DCMS, and following today's meeting with Sport England, it is clear that funding is available for clubs to continue the season,” Mr Newton told bufc.co.uk.

"Although the funding is primarily based on loans, it was also made very clear that grants will be available for those clubs that would not be in a position to repay loans.

"The terms of any loans are also extremely favourable, up to 20 years to repay with an initial four-year holiday period, and at only 2% interest rate.

"All clubs applied to the league to play the season, and have commenced the playing of the season, so we believe that we all have an obligation to complete the season if possible.

"The funding available also recognised the community work that we all do, and it will also underpin that.

“It was apparent that clubs with urgent financial issues will be supported by Sport England and/or the National League.”

Clubs received their share of £10m National Lottery grants from October to December, but have since been told future funding will be in the shape of loans for the majority of clubs.

Mr Newton believes this is enough for the Pilgrims and other teams to continue playing.

"We feel strongly that, with the above generous support available, the National League should be instructing the clubs to play, as there are no financial reasons why they should not do so.

"All the clubs have good Covid procedures in place, and they could be improved further through the funding available, if the costs are included in any funding bids to Sport England.

"At the start of the season, we received £10 million of very generous Government funding, and if clubs now choose to not take up the offer of further funding, that £10 million of support will have been wasted. I believe we have a moral obligation to ensure that does not happen.”

Mr Newton added that he would be happy for the suspension of the regional leagues to be extended if it helped complete the season.

He said: "We are very conscious of the current situation in the country resulting from the pandemic and the health of everyone involved in football - and the wider community has always been our primary concern.

“It was on this basis that when feeding our thoughts back to the National League following the last league meeting, we stated that we would support a four-to-six week break in the season which would not only allow the financial position to be finalised, but also allow the season to recommence when the pressure is off the NHS, all the vulnerable groups in society have the first dose of the vaccine, infection rates are much lower and less games will be lost due to pitch/weather conditions.

"We still feel that such an approach is appropriate to protect staff, players and the wider community, but also allow the season to conclude properly - on the pitch.

"Clubs should also be mindful of the positive impact that us playing has had on the health and wellbeing on fans who have benefitted by their re-engagement with the clubs through the streaming of fixtures and, of course, the mere fact that 'their club' is playing.

"I would urge all clubs to meet their obligations to conclude the season, where possible."

MORE PILGRIMS: Chairman gives update on stadium construction

MORE PILGRIMS: Could Bird and Gibbens return to United?

MORE PILGRIMS: When Daryl Clare scored against Dover - gallery

MORE PILGRIMS: National League regional divisions suspended