Dover decision hurts Torquay United
- Credit: Dave Crawford/PPAUK
"Cheers, Dover Athletic - Thanks For Nothing!" - that's the reaction from Torquay United fans after the National League finally announced a range of punishments for the 'down-tools' Kent club which leaves the Gulls worse off in the promotion race.
The decision to expunge all Dover's results this season - they have also been fined £40,000 and docked 12 points in 2021-2022 for their failure to fulfil fixtures - boosts leaders Sutton United, second-placed Hartlepool United and Notts County (5th).
But it leaves Torquay (3rd), who are now nine points behind Sutton instead of six going into Saturday's trip to Dagenham & Redbridge, Stockport (4th) and Wrexham (6th) worse off.
Neither Sutton nor Hartlepool have played Dover this season, so they lose no points.
But Torquay lose the three points they earned from a 2-0 win at Plainmoor, and Stockport (3-0), Wrexham (3-1) and Bromley (4-1) all miss out in the same way.
Notts lost 1-0 at Dover on the first day of the season, so they lose nothing, which actually moves them above Wrexham in the process.
The new top of the National League table reads: 1 Sutton P28 Pts 60 (GD +25), 2 Hartlepool P31 Pts 56 (+13), 3 Torquay P28 Pts 51 (+19), 4 Stockport P28 Pts 47 (+16), 5 Notts Co P26 Pts 46 (+14), 6 Wrexham P28 Pts 44 (+9), 7 FC Halifax Town P28 Pts 43 (+10), 8 Eastleigh P28 Pts 43 (+6), 9 Chesterfield P27 Pts 42 (+11), 10 Bromley P28 Pts 41 (+6).
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The decisions, reached after an investigation by an Independent Panel, were not unexpected.
The only consolation for Torquay is that Sutton and Hartlepool would have fancied themselves for maximum points from two games each against Dover, who furloughed all their players and staff on February 14 and have not played since.
And the games-played situation is also resolved - Sutton have no games in hand over the Gulls, who are five points behind Hartlepool but now have three games in hand.
The worst sufferers from the whole episode are actually Bromley, who beat Dover 4-1 and drop from 7th to 10th, overtaken by Halifax, Eastleigh and Chesterfield.
The League quoted the money Dover have saved by not playing, against the costs incurred by other teams who are carrying on, in the size of the Crabble club's fine.
It has also fined 16 North and South clubs £2,000 each for failing to fulfil fixtures, with suspended two-point deductions next season.
All clubs have a right to appeal.