National League need to decide how 2019/20 ends, says Harrogate Town's James Belshaw

Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw wants the National League to decide how the 2019/20 season is concluded, rather than allowing clubs to vote on the issue.

Thursday, 16th April 2020, 7:47 am
Updated Thursday, 16th April 2020, 8:28 am
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Picture: Matt Kirkham

It was announced last week that members of English football’s fifth and sixth tiers will have a say in how the current campaign is wrapped up following its indefinite suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The National League’s board has recommended that all clubs approve their proposal to cancel all fixtures up to and including April 25.

If that proposal is passed, then members will be polled on how they wish to determine issues of promotion and relegation.

Belshaw, however, does not believe that putting these matters to a vote is a good idea.

“It should be for the National League to decide,” Harrogate’s number one said.

“That’s what needs to happen for the integrity of the game.

“Taking votes is pointless, in my opinion. If you’re asking individual clubs, they’re obviously going to vote for what’s best for them, which is understandable, but I don’t believe it’s the right thing to do.

“Whatever the outcome, you’re not going to please everyone, but there are ways of sorting this out and I think what is important is that you reward the clubs who have done well rather than those who have struggled this season.”

Given that his team sat second in the National League standings when competition was initially suspended in mid-March, just four points behind leaders Barrow –whom they are still due to play at home – it is understandable that Belshaw doesn’t want to see 2019/20 written off and all results expunged.

“If the season is declared null and void then I think it would be a travesty,” he added.

“I’m not just saying that because of where we are in the league table. So many fans have spent a lot of money going up and down the country supporting their teams, and all the clubs have invested in trying to achieve their goals.If 2019/20 is voided, then all that was for nothing.

“If I’m speaking with my Harrogate Town hat on then I think that although we’re not in an automatic promotion spot at the moment, we are still the second-best placed team in the National League. So, if two sides are to be promoted then I think we deserve to be one of them.

“Obviously, if that did happen, you could understand the frustrations of the other clubs who are in the play-off positions, like Notts County and Yeovil, but as I say, there won’t be a way to decide this situation that pleases everyone.

“We’d have loved the chance to try and chase Barrow down, and we fancied ourselves to do it. Not knowing what is going to happen is the hardest part of the situation, for me, though it would be absolutely gutting if the season is declared null and void.

"As a team, we have worked so hard to get to where we are."

The Football League last week revealed its intention to complete all remaining fixtures, however results in all of the divisions below the National League North and South have been expunged and their seasons controversially declared null and void.