The Executive Committee of Blyth Spartans AFC wishes to make the following statement.
Supporters will be aware that the start of the 2020/21 National League North season was delayed because of Covid-19 restrictions. The restrictions determined that all games would have to be played behind closed doors. This, of course, would mean that there would be no gate income, the most significant part of the club’s revenue.
Representatives of the National League and the FA held meetings with Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) and a scheme of grants was agreed to fund the National League, North and South for October, November and December. The National League and the FA left the meeting with the understanding that if the Covid pandemic continued into 2021, the grants would continue into the New Year. It was with this understanding that clubs agreed to start the season in October.
In December, with no change in Covid restrictions on the horizon (indeed they were becoming more severe), the National League started discussions to determine how the grants would continue into the New Year. The National League was advised by DCMS that no further grants would be available.
The National League advised that the only alternative source of funding was via Sports England and that funding would be in the form of loans with a possible small element of grant. The loans were offered with 10 or possible 20-year repayment option.
As you can imagine, this presented a number of clubs with a huge problem in that they would not want to burden their club with huge debt repayments for years into the future. Clubs had thus to decide whether to take out loans (more than £120,000 for Blyth) for the sake of playing four months of football.
After much discussion, The National League decided that a vote would have to be taken as to whether the season would be suspended and made null and void or to continue, in the knowledge that some clubs would refuse to take on loans and not take part in further matches.
The unanimous decision of the Executive Committee at Blyth Spartans AFC is that the club will not take on loans that would burden the club for years into the future for the sake of four months of football and has voted to suspend the season and make it null and void.
The Executive Committee hope supporters understand the decision.