Football clubs from the National League North and South divisions have voted to render their respective seasons null and void, and immediately cancel all remaining fixtures.
The results of the league-wide vote were announced on Thursday night, a suitable majority having been reached.
The National League proper will still play out the end of its season despite seven clubs voting against it.
“The whole thing is a bit of a nightmare,” Oliver Ash, chairman of Maidstone United told BBC Radio 5 Live’s 72+ Podcast. “It’s a ‘fait accompli’ and we’re stuffed.
“This situation is going to go on and I’m not sure how it’s going to finish. I think there will be a fair bit of legal action from some clubs, there will be a lot of unhappy clubs and there may be some more surprises around the corner.”
Over the past weeks a number of clubs from throughout the footballing pyramid have shed light on their untenable positions. Dulwich Hamlet FC hit the headlines after they revealed the National League South was threatening them with fines for; not completing fixtures, seeking Government funding to stay afloat, seeking alternative funding to stay afloat, and closing the club due to being unable to stay afloat.
Many clubs – such as Maidstone United – will now be forced to shut down until the new season restarts, raising massive issues regarding staff and player contracts, and advertising agreements.
“There will be a lot of reflection to come out of this whole process,” Ash added.
“The big question will be: ‘Was this vote really necessary? Was this the only solution?’ There should have been more involvement with the clubs, with the chairmen and more transparency from the league to give us more of a chance at finding a better solution.”
The mess around government support grants, which then got reduced, and then got turned into loans, has left clubs throughout the tiers facing uncertain futures at best, and oblivion at worst.
Despite the vote appearing final there are still issues regarding promotion and relegation to be decided, which, given how inextricably linked to club finances these can prove to be, will be no small matter.