Torquay supporters join calls for club grants not loans

General view of the stadium before the National League South match between Torquay United and Bath C

Torquay United Supporters' Trust has urged Culture and Sport Minister Oliver Dowden to drop the idea of a second round of funding in loans - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Torquay United Supporters' Trust (TUST) has been keeping up the pressure on the Government to change course over the funding row which is threatening the National League season.

Alongside Torbay MP Kevin Foster's lobbying, TUST has also urged Culture and Sport Minister Oliver Dowden to drop the idea of a second round of funding in loans and revert to the grants which helped clubs play from October to December.

Culture and Sport Minister Oliver Dowden

Culture and Sport Minister Oliver Dowden - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

TUST, which is also urging fans to sign an NL petition for the same cause, insists that clubs would not have agreed to start the season if they had known what is now happening.

It also makes the financial argument that 'grassroots' football is worth a reported £10billion a year to the economy, £400million to the Exchequer, and that the cost of furloughing NL players and staff will be £11million - £3million more than if help is given in grants.

Meanwhile, the fate of Torquay and their NL 'Premier' rivals - there is a strong majority in their division for carrying on - is still in the balance as the competition lurches from crisis to crisis.

Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay

Kevin Foster, MP for Torbay - Credit: Kevin Foster

The deadline for all 66 clubs to vote, on who decides what and whether to continue, falls in ten days' time on February 28.

But despite league instructions to resume playing, many North and South clubs have simply downed tools and refused to fulfil fixtures until fresh 'non-loan' funding and a more viable Covid-testing regime is in place.

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They were joined this week by 'Premier' outfit Dover Athletic, who were due to play the Gulls' rivals Sutton United on Tuesday night.

Trust and confidence in the NL Board - Dover chairman Jim Parmenter resigned from it very publicly recently - has all but evaporated.

The idea that the 'tail' of the North/South divisions might end up wagging the 'dog' of the Premier, who have two hugely lucrative and long fought-for promotion places to the EFL at stake, borders on the farcical.

That relationship between the NL and the EFL is key and - remember, last season was eventually decided by Points Per Game (PPG) - a way has to be found to conclude this campaign one way or another.