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National League clubs back vote of no confidence as Chairman resigns

calendario 10.04.2021
by: Zach
  • England
  • Vanarama National
National League clubs back vote of no confidence as Chairman resigns

National League Chairman Brian Barwick, who received an OBE in the 2020 New Year’s Honours, stated he will resign when the competition concludes the 20/21 season. The news follows a tumultuous year in English football’s fifth and sixth tiers, culminating in calls for a vote of no confidence in Barwich and the board.

This season, National League clubs experienced funding disputes, closed-door matches, COVID-19 outbreaks, ‘null and void’ referendums, and fines for missing fixtures totalling £100,000. Catalysed by these crises, the National League South’s Dorking Wanderers and Maidstone United spearheaded a call for an Emergency General Meeting to execute a vote of no confidence in the board.

The campaign passed its required threshold to conduct the meeting, supported by clubs such as Kettering Town, Leamington, Brackley Town, Hemel Hempstead, Dover Athletic and Slough Town. In total, 17 clubs supported the EGM so far, mirroring the 17 clubs subjected to fines by the National League board.

While the no confidence motion coincides with Barwick’s resignation pledge, the Chairman and former FA executive claims to have already decided on his departure during the Christmas break. In a statement, Barwick expanded on his decision, stating that “the last 12 months have been the most difficult in my career. I’ve been trying my very best, as has everyone else, to get through this crisis. It blew us out of the water.” Despite his suggestion that his decision preceded the no confidence calls, his support of “everyone else” on the board offers a pointed reinforcement of the hierarchy’s position. 

Andrew Morris, the chairman of National League North side Chester FC, offered a measured reaction to the news while pushing for a dramatic restructuring of the league system. Morris stated his feeling that “on reflection, and I wonder if he feels the same, that perhaps [Berwick] would have done the last 12 months differently.” Berwick’s description of the last year as the “most difficult” in his career echoes this sentiment.

Chief among Chester’s arguments for National League reform concerned the voting system, which overwhelmingly privileges the National League top flight over the regional leagues North and South. The current system allows the top-flight clubs one vote each, while only affording four votes to each regional league as a whole. This system looks set to take greater significance, and greater scrutiny, as the no confidence EGM goes ahead.

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