"What a stitch up!" Chairmen respond to claims National League grants will become loans

Boston United among clubs meeting with league today...

United are among the clubs holding meetings with the National League today. Photo: Oliver Atkin

There is doubt as to whether the National League season can be completed after clubs learned grants look set to be cut, it has been reported.

Teams in the National League - plus the South and North divisions, where Boston United currently play - are classed as elite sport, and have therefore continued playing whilst steps three and below of the National League System have seen action postponed during lockdown.

For the past three months clubs have been receiving support via £11m in grants from the National Lottery, which ended on December 31.

But it is understood that future payments will be in the form of loans, in line with support packaged previously offered to lower-level clubs.

While clubs are livestreaming matches, they are missing out on much needed match day revenue, and it is feared many would not be able to continue to operate without the grants.

It is understood the National League board met last night to discuss the funding situation, and separate meetings with representatives from each division will be held today (Wednesday).

Non-league reporter Ollie Bayliss has published a statement received from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

It read: "It is incorrect to suggest funding was ever promised as grants. Clubs in scope will be assessed for support on the same criteria as other professional clubs."

However, the chairmen of some National League teams say they agreed to begin the campaign after being led to believe the survival package would continue in the form of grants until supporters were allowed to return to stadiums.

"What a stitch up this is. The Vanarama National League gave all clubs assurances they couldn't honour, all this in order for clubs to start the season only for us to have the rug pulled from beneath us," Wealdstone chairman Rory Fitzgerald wrote on Twitter.

Concord Rangers chairman Anthony Smith added: "I personally would 100% be behind any clubs who wish to make a stand in not playing there (sic) fixture this Saturday. I'm pretty sure it is the only way we will get the attention that is required, we have seen how long it takes to get answers if you just nod your head and say ok."

The £11m funding package courted controversy after the National League outlined how it would be distributed.

National League clubs received either £95k or £84k per month, with clubs in the North and South receiving either £36k or £30k per month.

Clubs in the regional divisions with large fanbases argued that higher-level teams that were not missing out on as much matchday revenue were being better remunerated.

At present clubs are continuing their seasons as normal, with the Pilgrims hosting Chesterfield this evening the FA Trophy.

MORE PILGRIMS: United must prepare for 'physical battle'

MORE PILGRIMS: Burrow targeting Wembley return

MORE PILGRIMS: What to expect from Chesterfield in Trophy clash

MORE PILGRIMS: Jake Wright wants to repay United