BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dulwich Hamlet saw their National League South season declared null and void at the end of last week – with manager Gavin Rose revealing that a major chunk of their playing squad are unable to be furloughed.
Dulwich had been charged for not fulfilling two recent fixtures – claiming it would put the future of the 128-year-old club at risk due to no funding being in place – before the voting results brought the campaign to an end.
Rose is hugely critical of the National League over the whole process.
“I think the way it was set up in the first place in terms of voting was wrong,“ he said. “And there was only going to be one outcome in terms of the system they set up.
“We had a gun to our heads. We started the season with grants and then they were pulled away for no real reason and through no fault of the clubs.
“Because of the way the league handled it the government didn’t have the confidence to give any money or grant money. Now we are all suffering for it. Rather than take the blame and owning up to their error, they [National League] threatened fines and expulsion [if matches weren’t played]. They made it sound like we didn’t want to play.
“Yes, Dulwich Hamlet needs to be protected – like all the clubs. But there are players whose livelihoods, careers and development are going to be affected. That is not really being talked about.
“We are where we were in the first lockdown. We’re back to square one. They [National League] have got to look at themselves.”
Rose is Dulwich’s longest-serving boss, taking charge in 2009. The South Londoner has yet to focus on the financial impact for himself.
“We haven’t spoken about that,” he said. “My main priority with the club has been trying to make sure the players are looked after. You think about yourself after that.
“It may well be that I don’t get any income and I am furloughed. But the players, through no fault of their own, still have bills to pay.
“I’m trying to put myself in their shoes to see what we can do to help them in the short term. They are all at different stages of their careers and lives.
“Our owner has been on record as saying we missed the deadline for the furlough system for a large majority of the squad, through no fault of our own.”
The cut-off date for eligibility is that an HMRC payroll submission must have been made in relation to the employee by October 30, 2020.
Dulwich pay their staff on the final day of the month.
Their season started on October 3 and they played 13 league matches – the most recent on January 16.
“We have 13 players not eligible for the furlough,” said Rose. “We need to honour their contracts but have had no means to be able to do so – the two ways we could is a grant or the furlough, which is not there for us.
“If we did our payroll on the 29th or 30th then our boys would be eligible – but we didn’t think about that because we didn’t know we’d be on furlough. It seems very harsh that by doing things properly as a club we have been left with the saddle in our hands. We shouldn’t have to deal with it, but we are.
“We’ve always been good to the players and vice versa. We’re trying to see what we can do to bridge the gap but we might not be able to because it is not something we planned for [that the season would start without adequate funding in place].
“We do have an outside opportunity of funds from Sport England, we hope that can come through.”
The National League have yet to issue a statement on whether clubs who did not play fixtures will still face punishment.
“Common sense would make you say no – but there hasn’t been a lot of common sense from the league,” said Rose. “I wouldn’t put it past them. There has been zero accountability from the league but a lot of responsibility and pointing fingers at clubs.
“Some clubs have got lots of sponsorship and lots of investment, they maybe don’t feel the pinch as much as we do.
“If the league took accountability it wouldn’t divide people. But they haven’t – they’ve made out everyone should play fixtures and ignored why that isn’t the case.”
Bromley failed to make up ground on the National League play-off spots as they drew 1-1 at Boreham Wood on Tuesday evening.
Tyrone Marsh put the home side ahead on the half-hour mark with a shot that took a deflection off Chris Bush.
Bromley made it 1-1 on 55 minutes, Courtney Duffus striking home after Luke Coulson’s cross was only partially cleared.
Michael Cheek was denied by Wood keeper Nathan Ashmore with Joe Kizzi and Jack Holland both unable to get a decisive touch in a goalmouth scramble.
Bush headed off his own line late on with Ravens keeper Mark Cousins also tipping over to frustrate Kane Smith.
Bromley are 12th in the table but have two games in hand on seventh-placed Wrexham. Neil Smith’s side are at home to Altrincham tomorrow (3pm).
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.