After 48 years away, Barrow AFC are back in the English Football League.
The Bluebirds were promoted from the National League as champions last night after clubs in the division voted to decide the final league positions on a points per game basis.
That kind of criteria was always going to see Ian Evatt’s side finish on top, as they were four points clear at the top of the table when the coronavirus pandemic halted their season with nine games to play.
Their route to the EFL had been opened up by them last week voting to retain promotion and relegation, including in League Two, the division where AFC will be playing their football next season after the National League decided to follow suit.
It will be the first time they have played in the fourth tier of English Football since being voted out of the league in 1972, despite finishing third from bottom.
Instead of trips to Maidenhead, Ebbsfleet and Dover, they can now look forward to visits from Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City and fellow Cumbrians Carlisle United to Holker Street in the 2020/21 campaign.
The other matters to have been resolved by the vote include Kings Lynn Town and Wealdstone being promoted from National League North and South, respectively, and play-offs taking place in all three divisions.
The amount of teams being relegated has yet to be decided as the intention is to keep the national division at 24 clubs.
National League CEO Michael Tattersall said: “I congratulate each of our champions clubs on their successful campaigns.
“The enforced curtailment of our season does nothing to discredit the quality of the football played and I am pleased that our clubs have overwhelmingly supported the award of their titles.”
For manager Ian Evatt, promotion is the fulfilment of an aim he has been open about achieving since his appointment two years ago.
He said: “It’s just sinking in, but we knew and I’ve said all along and everyone inside of Barrow, but everyone inside of our dressing room, we knew we were the best team.
“We had belief in ourselves and the lads have gone out there week in, week out and proved it.
“We’ve had teams coming to us and raising their game while we’ve been league leaders, so our players had to raise theirs and they’ve done it, so they should be really proud of what they’ve achieved.
“They’ll go down as heroes in Barrow folklore and rightly so.
“They deserve to because what they’ve achieved for the community and the town is amazing.”