Dulwich Hamlet chairman accuses some National League clubs of looking to “subvert” voting over finishing the campaign

BY RICHARD CAWLEY

Dulwich Hamlet chairman Ben Clasper has accused some clubs of “subverting” the vote over whether the National League season should be completed.

The Champion Hill outfit issued a statement a week ago saying they would not fulfil their fixtures until the 128-year-old club’s future was not at risk.

Teams in the three divisions are risking expulsion or a points deduction if they do not play despite the fact that no grants are in place for the second half of the campaign to cover the lack of income from playing in empty stadiums.

The National League South campaign resumed at the weekend but Dulwich have not played since the end of 2020.

Clasper said: “The National League are still offering no solution to the problem. That’s why clubs are saying they are unable to play games and that they are forcing us into debt.

“Clubs are being evaluated by Sport England but it is still thought the likelihood is loans. The overwhelming majority of clubs will reject loans – that’s not the magic wand the league thinks it is.

“The vote about whether the season should continue has to remain open for 28 days and the clubs who want to continue are withholding votes – effectively forcing the league to play another three or four weeks. That is appalling behaviour.

“One club in the National League North wrote to the clubs in all three divisions last night and said ‘your actions are causing misery and distress for employees – just vote’.

“The league’s next problem is that there is an attempt by clubs who want to continue to renege on their vote by voting away the rights of the South and North leagues to vote, knowing that the top division is likely to want to continue. They know that would mean that everyone has to do what the top division does.

“To disenfranchise clubs…I’ve got no words for that.

“The poor league has said ‘here is how we are going to resolve it’ and they have put in place a process that can be subverted. That is what is happening.

“Our local rivals Tonbridge put out a statement that was similar to ours – they played at the weekend. But they played out of fear of reprisals from the league. They followed that up by saying on Wednesday they will be insolvent by the end of the month.

“The action, or inaction, of the league is putting long-standing community clubs out of existence.

“We want to be playing football – we’re not refusing – but we’re in the situation of a lot of clubs at the moment in that we’re unable to play without putting the existence of the club at risk.

“We have surveyed 500 of our fans and they don’t want us to do that. We also had a club meeting with our volunteers and board and they were unanimous as well. We are following the will of the Dulwich community on this one.”

The National League declined to comment when approached by the South London Press this week.


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