Torquay United poised to reveal ‘retained list’ for next season

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson Picture: Steve Bond/PPAUK

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson Picture: Steve Bond/PPAUK - Credit: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

Torquay United are poised to announce their player 'retained list' for next season by this weekend after offering new contracts to most of manager Gary Johnson's current squad.

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK

Torquay United manager Gary Johnson PHOTO: Steve Bond/PPAUK - Credit: Steve Bond/Pinnacle

The Gulls' players have until Saturday to 're-sign', which will involve extending their current 'furlough' arrangements and then taking up the new deals when the Government-backed scheme ends.

Johnson revealed: 'I have been very encouraged by how the talks have gone.'

Most current contracts run out on Saturday, May 2, and Johnson said: 'The offers we have made are a big commitment by our club to keep the players.

'It's still a very precarious time for everybody, but I believe the club has been very generous in the situation that we are in.

'I am sure that some advisers and agents will be telling their players to hang on.

'They are taking a big risk in the current climate, but of course it's the agents who need players to move.

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'We are going to have to recruit more full-time playing staff, and that process has already started, and we are also looking at whether we can get some of our current (six) loans back.'

Having ended their 2019-2020 season early, the National League plans to resolve promotion/relegation issues next week after consulting clubs for a second time.

But it has emerged that if the EFL cannot finish their own fixtures, they may reprieve League Two's bottom club Stevenage and allow only one team (NL leaders Barrow) to be promoted, instead of the usual two.

Johnson stressed: 'I have always wanted to feel that the National League would come out of this crisis closer to the EFL - I don't feel that, and neither do many other managers I have talked to.'

The Vanarama National League's decision to end its 2019-2020 season early has almost certainly dashed hopes of the competition becoming the 'Third' division of the Football League (EFL), says Torquay United manager Gary Johnson.

Johnson, who did not agree with either the NL Board's recommendation to halt the season or the recent clubs' vote which backed it, has been a strong proponent of the National League drawing closer to the EFL.

The Gulls' boss believes the 'shutdown' forced by the Covid-19 pandemic presented a new chance for the NL to press to join the EFL for the first time.

'We wanted to be aligned with the Football League, but this decision has put us further away from it in my opinion,' said Johnson.

Torquay are believed to be in a minority of clubs who voted for the season to be kept alive and completed if/when it was safe to do so.

The Plainmoor hierarchy is well aware that finishing the campaign might not eventually have been possible.

But Johnson asked: 'Did the National League really have to go out on a limb and make their decision before the Football League and the rest of football?

'They have jumped the gun. We were the last league to finish playing and now we are the first ones to end the season.'

As long as the EFL and the National League remain separate, two major disadvantages are unlikely to change.

They are the limit on only two clubs being promoted to League Two each season and the fact that National League clubs, the vast majority fully-professional, receive only a fraction of the 'trickle-down' money that EFL clubs get.

It is estimated that a place is League Two is worth at least £750,000 a year before a ball is kicked.

Meanwhile, the decision to end the season does nothing to resolve the issues of promotion/relegation or league placings.

The NL Board has said that it plans to put those posers back to the clubs.

But until the EFL confirms how many clubs it will allow to be promoted to League Two, even those votes are shrouded in uncertainty.