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The Non-League Football Paper

New National League play-off structure is not good for football and will cost clubs money, says Dartford co-chairman

Pic: David Purday

THE new National League play-off system is bad for football according to Dartford co-chairman Steve Irving.

Eighteen of the 24 National League clubs voted in favour of a six-team play-off structure at the league’s annual general meeting last month.

Games will be one-legged, with teams in fourth and fifth hosting the seventh and sixth clubs in a qualifying round before the winners travel to second and third in the semi-finals.

Teams that finish second and third will, in theory, be given an advantage as they will play one match fewer and be guaranteed a home tie in the one-off semi-final.

National League chief executive Michael Tattersall said: “There is no doubting the popularity of the play-offs and while there is always healthy debate about their fairness, the highs and the lows felt are unique.

“With six places, more clubs will qualify which will only increase interest. More will be incentivised in the final months of the season.”

However, Irving believes that the move isn’t a good thing for football and says club’s making the play-offs could be left out of pocket.

The Darts finished third in the National League South last term before losing in the play-off semi-finals to Chelmsford City.

Tony Burman’s men will be confident of another promotion push but Irving told Kent Online: “We weren’t in favour (of the play-off restructure). As a board, straight away, we were against the move to extend it for a variety of reasons.

“I don’t think it’s good for football in general. For some clubs, it gives them an additional chance of getting into that play-off spot but we were against it.

“We canvassed the fans and, on Facebook, Twitter and the website, they were against it as well. That may be because we think we’re good enough to finish top or certainly in the old play-off spots but how much further can you go?

“It reduces income (for teams finishing second and third) because they’ve gone down the route of just having a single game instead of the semi-finals where you shared income between the two games.

“From a financial point of view, it could cost more if you end up in a play-off spot. If we were to finish second or third, we would get byes in that first round but financially I think it’s poorer.”

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