Merthyr Town chairman Howard King insists they had to pull out of the new Southern League season of face going bust because of the coronavirus.
News that the Martyrs are going into hibernation and withdrawing from the Southern League’s Premier Division South was officially confirmed in a club statement on Monday after rumours of the move began circulating over the weekend.
Manager Gavin Williams is being retained but their players have been told they are free to find other clubs. The Martyrs have also withdrawn from the FA Cup, handing Poole a free pass into the next round 24 hours before they were due to meet at Penydarren Park on Tuesday night in the first qualifying round.
The Martys are following in the footsteps of Isthmian League South East Guernsey. As reported in Sunday’s NLP, they also had no option but to pull out of season 2020/21 because of coronavirus travel restrictions to the Channel Islands.
— The Martyrs (@MerthyrTownFC) September 21, 2020
With their local area already subject to restrictions, fans still banned and further lockdown measures expected to be announced in South Wales from 6pm on Tuesday, the club’s board said they were left with three options: ground-sharing in England but losing a chunk of match-day revenue, kicking off behind closed doors or asking for their season to be suspended as long as they could retain their place in the National League System.
King told the BBC Wales on Monday that although they still hope the fan-owned club’s off-the field business activities can continue, they couldn’t risk bankruptcy by playing on.
“We had to make a decision to carry on playing or stop for the long-term future of the club,” he said. “It was not a decision we took lightly but it was for the benefit of the club.”
“We were left with little choice at our board meeting. We had to tell the Southern League before Saturday what we were going to do. If we stopped playing they would allow us back into the league next season.
“If we carried on playing, which the Welsh Assembly Government had said would be behind closed doors, we would have had to pay the players and coaches. By the middle of November we would have eaten into our reserves and the club would have been bankrupt.”
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Images courtesy of The Non-League Paper & @NonLeaguePaper, @MerthyrTownFC/Twitter