National League votes to continue

Plainmoor’s Torbay Weekly Stand

Plainmoor’s Torbay Weekly Stand - Credit: Archant

IT'S ALL systems go for Torquay United to chase their promotion dream after they and their Vanarama National League rivals voted to complete the season rather than halt it.

The League has published the voting figures, more than a week before the planned deadline, and it means that the NL 'National' will continue despite ongoing funding issues.

But a majority of North and South divisions have voted to stop now and declare the season null-and-void.

Gulls boss Gary Johnson was understandably happy at the news, as his table-topping side prepares for Saturday's BT Sport live televised home game against FC Halifax Town (5.20pm).

"I am relieved, but not shocked, that the vote has gone in favour of carrying the league on to the end of the season," he said.

"It was a bit of a worry to us, and even my players were getting concerned about whether we would keep going.

"I do feel sorry for the players in the North and South, because there's going to be a lot of good players not playing football in the second half of the season.

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"But now we've got 22 more games to try and win promotion the right way, rather than something like PPG (Points Per Game) deciding it." 

United are one of the few clubs who have not announced how they voted, but it is likely that they chose to carry on.

The key resolution was the one which gave all 66 clubs the chance to vote as one or to divide between National and North/South and decide their own fate.

In the end there was a 75%-plus majority for the latter option.

Then more than the required 50% of 'National' clubs voted to continue their pursuit of the two lucrative promotion places to the EFL's League Two.

A handful of clubs have yet to vote, but the NL reported that they cannot affect the outcome anyway.

Among the remaining issues for the NL Board is the current refusal of 'National' club Dover Athletic to fulfil its fixtures.

They may be joined by a couple of other sides - King's Lynn Town, Barnet and Weymouth have all expressed doubts about their ability to continue, short of stopping unilaterally.

Johnson is giving little away about his selection options ahead of the Halifax game, but at least three of the players who had to miss the 1-1 draw with Wealdstone are expected back.

They will certainly include midfielder Connor Lemonheigh-Evans, suspended last week, while Ben Wynter, Dean Moxey and Armani Little are all thought to be close to fitness.

Johnson said: "This was always going to be a very big game for us, with or without the vote.

"Some players probably think about the extra people watching more than others, but we will have them all fully focused.

"What I do know is that I always enjoy being interviewed as the winning manager after these TV games, and I don't enjoy being the losing one."

United have already won 2-1 at The Shay this season and Halifax, who seemed to hit form after their loss to the Gulls, come to Plainmoor on the back of defeats to Maidenhead (2-3) at home and bottom club Barnet (1-2) away on Tuesday night.