Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver 'confident that two clubs will go up' from National League
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver believes that two teams will still be promoted from the National League this term.
Ordinarily, the side that finishes the season top of English football's fifth tier and also the winner of the division's play-offs are permitted entry into League Two.
The coronavirus pandemic has however led to National League clubs voting to abandon all remaining fixtures, with a decision still to be made on how to determine issues of promotion and relegation.
With approval for League Two's wish to curtail their own season expected imminently, plus the fact that members of the fourth tier have voted to scrap relegation, it remains to be seen what the unprecedented circumstances created by the covid-19 pandemic will lead to.
Indeed, the National League wrote to clubs in April explaining that it only expected two of its teams to go up into the Football League (EFL) if League Two's season was completed and the National League play-offs were able to take place.
The EFL's own rules on the matter are however quite clear and have not escaped the attention of boss Weaver.
Article 10.1.3 on the subject of 'Promotion and relegation between League Two and the National League' in section three of the EFL's regulations states: 'At the end of each season the champion club of the National League and the National League runner-up (be that determined on the basis of league position alone or by way of play off competition) shall be eligible to apply for promotion to the League.'
Town were second in the National League standings when competition was suspended, four points behind leaders Barrow and three clear of third-placed Notts County, despite having played a game less than the Magpies.
Weaver's team would remain in the 'runners-up' spot if a points-per-game method was used to decide the final league table.
“We are confident that two clubs will go up because of the EFL rulebook and the agreement that was made with the league several years ago,” Weaver said.
“The rulebook states that the second team to go up is either the runners-up or the winners of the play-offs, but the chances of the play-offs taking place are slim.
“We were four points behind Barrow and due to play them at home a few weeks after the pandemic erupted, but what might have happened is just words now.
“It’s not a Liverpool situation with one team 25 points clear; it is four points. We were relishing that battle with Barrow but if the play-offs are out of the question then the best two teams should be rewarded."
As far as League Two members' proposal to scrap relegation into the National League is concerned, Weaver insists that a consistent approach has to be taken.
"I don’t want to see clubs relegated, but if you are promoting teams on a points-per-game basis then you have to relegate too," he added.
"I do believe that success should be rewarded after 80 per cent of games have been played. If clubs are promoted from League Two but not relegated [down from League One] then there are spaces available. But you have to be consistent across the board in terms of promotion and relegation.
"Greg Clarke [FA chairman] stated last Monday that the FA would veto attempts to alter the courses of relegation and promotion. If they are going to decide seasons based on sporting merit then you’d like to think that doesn’t stop at our level. We are a professional league too.
"It means as much to fans of Harrogate as it does to fans of top clubs in the Premier League to see fairness applied."