We need some leadership, demands Hemel boss Bircham

The National League South season is hanging in the balance

Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 9:35 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 9:36 am
Hemel Hempstead Town want to continue with the National League South season

Lee Bircham has called for some “leadership” to be shown by the National League as Hemel Hempstead Town face the prospect of another weekend without a league game.

On Monday, the National League confirmed clubs in all three divisions - the National League, North and South - would vote on what becomes of the campaign with 28 days being given for the votes to be returned.

In simple terms, clubs must first vote on whether or not they should group Step 1 (the National League) with Step 2 (North and South) in a single vote or decide each step’s fate separately.

Clubs are then asked whether or not to continue playing or stop with the season then being declared null and void.

If, as expected will be the case, the vote is decided separately then more than 50 per cent of clubs in the South, which Hemel play in, and North would need to agree for the season to be ended early for the second year in a row.

The voting process has come about due to a number of clubs being concerned over a lack of funding to keep the season going.

Clubs had been expecting a fresh round of grants, similar to what they had in the first three months but it has now emerged that only loans would be offered.

The North and South divisions had previously been suspended for two weeks with that period due to expire on Friday this week.

The National League had given no indication of whether matches in Step 2 should resume this weekend when the Tudors are due to face Concord Rangers at Vauxhall Road.

Concord chairman Ant Smith took to social media on Tuesday to say his club will still not play matches while the situation remains unresolved and, although Hemel are keen to continue, it seems they will be without a league match again this Saturday.

It’s a situation that has left Tudors boss Bircham bemused.

“In my personal opinion, I think we need some leadership somewhere down the line,” he said.

“There needs to be a line drawn in the sand and the league needs to come out and say something regarding these games that are supposed to be played.

“Every club has their own agenda and rightly so, they have to look after themselves.

“Our situation is different to others, the chairman planned for this sort of outcome and others haven’t.

“I don’t see the problem with games carrying on. If you can’t afford certain players then there are plenty who would play for nothing.

“I am sure if I sat the group I have got in a room and said ‘we can’t afford to do this, would any of you play just for expenses?’ I reckon 80 per cent of the lads I have here now would do it just to be able to play football.

“We have all been involved in football our whole lives and for the league to be stopped because of money and funding is soul destroying to be honest.

“Are some clubs really going to down tools for 28 days? I am sure if someone from on high said ‘if you don’t play you will lose points’ then some clubs would change their stance.

“We just want some clarity, that’s all anyone wants.”

Hemel have been keeping themselves busy on the training ground and hosts National League North side Kettering Town in a friendly last weekend to keep up the match fitness.

The visitors won the game 3-2 and Bircham added: “It was great to have the game and it was a good, competitive game as well.

“But it was still only a friendly at the end of the day and you could see that at times with concentration levels.

“I have always got on really well with (Kettering manager) Paul Cox so it was a no brainer to organise it.”