Harrogate Town respond to reports that they are to be promoted and National League season will be scrapped

Harrogate Town's managing director Garry Plant says that the club know nothing about the reported decision to scrap the National League season and promote them to League Two.

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 1:41 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 2:54 pm
Harrogate Town currently sit second in the National League standings. Picture: Matt Kirkham

An 'exclusive' story published by the Daily Star on Wednesday morning claims that the National League held a board meeting on Tuesday and voted to end 2019/20 with immediate effect due to the coronavirus crisis.

It is stated that Town - currently second in the fifth-tier standings - and leaders Barrow will be promoted to the Football League while Fylde and Chorley would be relegated to National League North.

This is however news to Plant, who said: "I am not aware of any of the details in this report.

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"When I woke up this morning and saw pieces in the Daily Star and Guardian about what has supposedly been decided about the 2019/20 National League season, they came like a bolt out of the blue.

"We are still waiting for information from the National League as to where we stand. We're sat on the edge of our seats."

It has been reported that National League chiefs are now holding crunch talks with the Football Association in a bid to get them to ratify the decision - and confirm who will be promoted and relegated.

Should the FA agree to the proposal, it would mean that the National League will become the first in the UK to fail to complete 2019/20 due to the spread of COVID-19.

One huge potential sticking point is the fact that should both Town and Barrow be promoted, then League Two would be faced with the prospect of operating as a 26-team division next term.

Football nationwide has been suspended until at least April 30, with both the Premier League and Football League voting last week to try and finish the current campaign, regardless of how long that takes to achieve.

Irrespective of what does happen, Plant insists that a decision has to be made sooner rather than later.

"Football clubs in the National League need an answer now," he added.

"We've got workers and employees to consider and can't be strung along any more.

"We want the season to be played to our finish for the integrity of the league and of football."

On Wednesday afternoon, the National League's CEO Michael Tattersal issued the following statement to all member clubs: “As many of you will know, the National League held a board discussion yesterday [Monday], which was the third such meeting in 11 days.

"The broad consensus was that our clubs wish for a decision to be made to close the season as soon as possible.

“The National League attended a further meeting last night with the Football Association, and the FA have been asked to assist us with making the decisions to officially postpone all remaining National League fixtures and to end the season as soon as possible for the purposes of player contracts.

“The National League is also working with the FA to define all reasonable and practical options for the determination of the 2019/20 season, and to provide guidance to clubs on dealing with player contracts, player registrations and the application of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

“We will continue to press for updates and will ensure that any further information is relayed to clubs as soon as it is received. The League is very aware that clubs are looking for answers and greater certainty, and we remain focused on delivering these in the most timely manner possible."