League in plea to FA and Government for ‘critical funding’

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston - Credit: Archant

The National League is pursuing a ‘critical funding package’ with the Government and the Football Association in order to start the 2020-2021 season on time next month without fans in grounds.

Torquay United will have to wait a little longer before they know whether they will meet Stockport County at Plainmoor on Saturday week (October 3).

But the NL Board said it hoped to have progress on their talks ‘very soon’.

The board had canvassed all its clubs this week, in the wake of the Government’s decision to halt the return of supporters to stadia because of the current spike in Covid-19 cases, and it spent most of Thursday in session.

The majority - 81 per cent - of NL North clubs say they cannot start the season without crowds.

But it is believed that most NL clubs, including Torquay, want to begin the campaign on time, with a combination of live TV streaming of matches and an aid package to help make up the shortfall in income though no fans in the stands.

The National League is classed as ‘elite level’ sport, although it does not receive the same ‘trickle down’ financial help which keeps many EFL clubs afloat.

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Sports minister Nigel Huddlestone said on Thursday that ‘Elite’ sport would have to ‘look at ways in which it can support itself’ through the current crisis.

But he did say that help might be given to ‘those most in need’.