Boreham Wood chairman Danny Hunter believes the season is effectively over and is calling for clear leadership from the National League over the coronavirus crisis.
Hunter spoke out as National League, Northern Premier League, Isthmian League and Southern League clubs submit statements on their finances and projected losses with all football suspended.
The figures are being collated to help the Football Association lobby the government for a financial aid package for football during the public health crisis.
Hunter set out his views in a detailed statement on the club’s website on Monday as the National League prepared to meet with the FA this week.
Chairman Danny Hunter calls for clear leadership from the National League Board
“But for now I’m asking the National League to show us all clear leadership, and put any clubs self-interest aside.”
— Boreham Wood FC (@BOREHAM_WOODFC) March 23, 2020
The future of the season will also be discussed and Hunter believes lives must take priority over finances as difficult decisions are weighed up.
He wrote: “At the moment all I’m hearing from people in football is about money and of course that is a huge, huge concern. But that’s an ongoing concern and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
“We first and most importantly have to establish that our players, staff, supporters, friends, loved ones and families are safe. We also have to realise for all clubs at our level we’re not Premier League clubs and we have no divine right to be asking for 20 million pound handouts from Government and think long and hard before we sack 60 people in a heartbeat.
“We all, in my opninion, have social responsibility and it’s how we act in these unprecedented times that will define us. So firstly for clarity… I’ve made my views clear by telephone to National League chief executive Michael Tattersall, and I’ve also asked my league representative Shahid Azeem some very simple questions that, of course, until the board meets in a conference call, they couldn’t answer.
“In the meantime I’m more than happy to make public what my concerns are. Unlike some of the bigger clubs, who will have their players on contract until June 30th, we have ten players who become free agents on April 25th and they will I’m sure want to put themselves and their families safety first, over football, in the next 12 weeks.
“We then have five loan players, who have all gone back to their parent clubs. Our agreements with those clubs run out on April 25th and again I’m sure both the players and their parent clubs, will want to put the player and their families safety first over the next 12 weeks – and so they should.
“That leaves us with just six players to complete the season and as such the season for us is over. So on April 25th, my players will be stood down with new offers made to them all and with only their health and safety of any concern to me.
“We all know that any league extension in the foreseeable future can only involve “what if” and “if when” whilst people around us could be losing their lives, losing their livelihoods and if possible myself, my players and my staff will not be involved in that.
“My responsibility is way, way above sport… It involves the life and death of others and as such common sense must and will prevail if it involves me or people wrapped around me. Of course, when it comes to relegations and promotions, that’s all for another day and many more discussions, but that will only happen when the Premier League and EFL make their final decisions.
“But for now the National League can show not just me, but the whole of the football world clear leadership… It can listen to its conscience, it can listen to our Government’s 12 week guidelines but it cannot, I repeat cannot, think that football is somehow exempt from the normal parameters of life, as it’s not and in truth football at our level is in the present climate is an irrelevance.
“So in my opinion, if we can all get to mid-June without putting people in jeopardy, without the loss of a loved one or a life in our communities, then we’ve all won and we’ve all won big. Throughout the next 12 weeks we can, as a league, certainly have as many conference call meetings as we like, as the situation will of course change… As it most certainly has in the last two weeks and it will in the next three weeks.
“We can perhaps more in hope, certainly plan for next season, but we must do that in the knowledge that collectively we have not put one person’s life in danger and that’s the bottom line. So my position is very clear… As I see it, the season is over for Boreham Wood FC.
“It’s not a discussion, there are no if’s or maybe’s which I know is disappointing for everyone who loves our club. I appreciate in regard to the play-offs, that this is the strongest squad we’ve ever had and we’re right in there amongst it. But in truth it’s an irrelevance to me, compared to my community and the wider world losing their lives and livelihoods…
“That said, let me be clear here, relegation and promotion can and will only be determined when we all know what the Premier League and EFL are doing and that’s not something we’re going to know anytime soon. At that point, trust me the National League will have a seat and a voice at the table, and the Premier League, English Football League and our Government are all going to move heaven and high water to ensure everyone is looked after.
“But for now I’m asking the National League to show us all clear leadership, and put any club’s self-interest aside. That is not going to be easy as our Board are, of course, made up of people who may have self-interest at heart as some of their clubs will have huge financial black holes.”
Make sure you get your copy of The Non-League Paper on a Sunday for the latest news from across Non-League over the last seven days on the growing impact of the coronavirus on the game and society.