National League promotion ‘to continue’

National League ball
Seven of 23 National League clubs wanted to end the season

Promotion and relegation between the EFL and National League will continue this season, says the National League’s interim general manager Mark Ives.

On 18 February, it was announced that the National League campaign would proceed, despite seven out of 23 clubs voting to end the season.

Ives told BBC Sport there have been no talks with the EFL about relegation.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have promotion into the EFL and relegation from it,” he said.

“I have been given no indication that it won’t [happen].”

It is understood the EFL is sympathetic to the ongoing problems within the National League and feel it would be unfair to penalise member clubs if they are attempting to finish the season.

Grimsby and Barrow – who returned to the EFL this season after a 50-year absence – currently fill the two relegation places in League Two.

Although a majority of the National League top tier voted to continue the season despite the absence of crowds, Dover have already declared their season over. Other clubs have put their squads on furlough and are fulfilling fixtures with non-contract players in an effort to save costs.

It is felt other clubs are waiting to see what disciplinary action, if any, is taken against Dover before deciding how to progress with their own campaigns.

While fines would seem illogical and points deductions this season pointless given there is no relegation from the National League, Ives says punishments carried over into next term “could be an option a panel would consider”.

Many clubs are furious that what they were told in October was a promise of government grant funding from January was not secured in writing and subsequently failed to materialise.

It is a surprise, therefore, that no discussions have taken place within the National League about the threshold for a points-per-game end to the season.

Instead, Ives says he is “‘preparing for the National League to finish the season. I fully anticipate we won’t need to consider a points-per-game issue”.

It is anticipated Ives, who was brought in for three months in January following the exit of chief executive Michael Tattersall, will have his stay extended, although talks are yet to take place.

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