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National League's Altrincham vow to "carry on" despite health and funding fears

calendario 29.01.2021
by: Zach
  • England
  • Vanarama National
  • League
  • Step 1-2
  • Vanarama National - League
National League's Altrincham vow to "carry on" despite health and funding fears

Altrincham released a firm statement outlining their determination to see out the National League season in the face of postponements, funding uncertainty, and concerns about the National League's coronavirus testing facilities after the UK's COVID death toll exceeded 100,000. 

In a press release on their website,, the club declared that the decision will cost them financially, but that National League "member clubs must avoid any action that could jeopardise our elite status." The declaration sparked divisive online responses, including praise towards their determination. However, some National League fans suggested that Altrincham's attitude stems from a privileged position near the top of the league.

Altrincham are coasting through their 20/21 season, despite the COVID chaos. A recent unbeaten run in their last four matches sees them cruise into fourth position in the league. Their latest victory, a 2-0 win at home to Wealdstone, displayed their adept game-management and their ambitious up-swinging momentum. Even Wealdstone's local publication, the Kilburn Times, admitted Altrincham's "control of the game throughout." 

Altrincham's statement revealed the driving force behind this momentum. Originally, the club helped found what was to become the National League, and campaigned hard to earn the competition its two EFL promotion places. In the interim period before the EFL recognised the National League's status, Altrincham would have qualified for EFL playoffs six times. Despite their long history, dating back 130 years, the club have never reached the EFL. 

In fact, Altrincham hold the record for eliminating the most EFL teams from the FA Cup of any team which never entered the EFL. This record, while impressive, shows Altrincham's potential, and how frustratingly close they've come to EFL status. 

When the pandemic first hit in 2019, Altrincham played Step 6's National League North. COVID forced the season to end on PPG, and Altrincham entered the promotion playoffs in fourth place, their current National League position now. After a hard-fought competition, Altrincham defeated Chester, York, and Boston United to earn promotion to the National League. The National Lottery funded the first three months of National League football immediately after Altrincham's promotion, which boosted the club into a higher category of funding. They thereby received more than double the Lottery funding of their recent National League North colleagues.

This upwards momentum, and the six-figure Lottery payout, set the stage for an incredible Altrincham season. With some of the best recent form in the league, they look to consolidate their place at the top of the National League's top flight. If they secure a promotion place, they earn an opportunity to break a 130-year streak outside the EFL. The only thing that stands between them and that chance is a global pandemic.

However, in asserting the duty and prestige in the National League's status, Altrincham cast their fellow member clubs in a negative light. Their statement opts to “question [...] member clubs walking away”, querying their ambition, and their commitment to the competition. The statement declares that "being elite carries a heavy responsibility." National League clubs up and down the country are asking whether that responsibility outweighs the current threats to lives and livelihoods.

Altrincham declate that "we owe it [...] to our players and management team" to finish the season, "despite the burden it places on our club." Just last week, 12 clubs in the National League North, Altrincham's peers last year, issued a statement with a completely different outlook. The National League North clubs called for "immediate suspension" of the season, fearing for "the safety and wellbeing of our families, staff, volunteers or the heroic workers who are tackling this pandemic on the front line."

Although Altrincham deserve a chance to prove themselves, fans must ask whether that chance warrants a risk to human lives, within football and across the country.


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