Finally, after weeks of deliberation, no voting forms, amendments and whatever else, we’ve finally got to the bottom of the National League season. It seems like it’s taken a full nine-month season to get to this point rather than two months but with any luck in four weeks’ time we are in for some play-off football.
For some parts of this decision it’s been waiting for the inevitable to happen, Barrow’s promotion to the Football League for instance. For others it’s been a wait to see if the play-offs beckon, relegation is confirmed, or things stay as they are.
As with other decisions from the top of the game to the bottom, the outcome was never going to please everyone unless the decision was across the board, and this has been anything but! I’ve been in favour of points per game (PPG) throughout this, my reasoning being 75% of games had been played by a huge majority of clubs up and down the land. Again, it’s still not ideal and had we been talking less than 50% played null and void in my opinion would have been the only way forward but universally.
The resolution finally voted for this week should have been the one put forward weeks ago, or least one of two or even three options to conclude the season and then once the EFL decided upon their course of action then the NL could have acted much sooner. The fit between the end of this season and the beginning of the next if as expected will start in September must now be thought out and released early enough to allow planning time.
From a personal point of view, I’m pleased for Darren Currie, his staff and the players that Barnet take the final play-off spot. Much has been mentioned about the postponements and games in hand that handed the Bees seventh place, not the ideal way for it to happen at all, but the run of form, two defeats in 18 games prior to the suspension of the season would have got Barnet comfortably into those play offs had that form continued, something we’ll never know though.
At the other end of the table, much sympathy for Ebbsfleet Utd. Relegated by the hair’s width on PPG tells the other side of the story. Having watched the Fleet on a couple of occasions at the back end of the season there were signs they were in the kind of form that was going to get them out of the bottom four, as with Barnet we’ll never know the answer, we do know it cost Kevin Watson his job and a place in the National League South for the Kent outfit.
PPG has given Kings Lynn the title in the North and sent York City to the play-offs should they go ahead for both them and the South division. Clubs understandably at that level are concerned at the cost of testing and all the other measures that would need to have in place, clubs have been told they will face no sanctions if they don’t wish to participate. How that will work if only 1 or 3 decide they want to play is anyone’s guess at the current time.
The South is more clear-cut with no positional changes, Wealdstone confirmed as champions and no changes to the play-off positions. There is a keenness there amongst those clubs to play, cost however is going to possibly be the biggest stumbling block at this level.
For the remaining clubs it now gives them the start they need to get planning for when 2020/21 will begin, that decision is the next one on the cards and a provisional date needs to be released as quick as they can. There is no reason why it can’t be moved if things need to take longer to be set up, but clubs need a date for now to work to, it’s impossible without.
How well these play-offs will go for any side is impossible to tell, no form, three for four weeks maximum training and from what it looks like a two week shoot out to decide Football League or National League, bumpy ride coming up, but we’re on our way………