Non-league football clubs were swimming in the deep end up until this week, but they were expected to be given a fully blown up rubber ring to help them float.
As it stands, they were offered a flotation aid but with a stipulation from the Government that it will need to be given back, something clubs weren’t expecting.
It has left non-league in turmoil.
The Government this week chose to reveal for the first time that another care package would be given in the form of a loan, which needs to be paid back with two per cent interest.
The news has sent shockwaves through non-league system and rightly so. Clubs are barely above water at the moment.
Why would they want to take on loan at a time when they’ve got no income, and when they will have no income for the foreseeable future.
They’ve been done over good and proper by a dithering Government, and it has left the leagues and the clubs in hot water.
None will take a loan on and now it looks as if momentum is getting behind a null and void situation.
In mid week the clubs voted to suspend the league for an alternative to be found.
AFC Telford United’s statement summed the situation up well, and also incorporated the safety issues with a lack of testing.
In the grand scheme of things you would much rather scrap promotion and relegation for a season, than take out a loan that will leave the club in a dodgy predicament.
But the wider issue in all this is the long term viability of some clubs.
Many of these non-league clubs will have part time players on contracts for a certain length of time, and depending on clauses, they’ll have to play them regardless of games being played.
When, or if the league is declared null and void these clubs will still have to pay the players the contracts they are owed, without that Government support money.
Some players will be in a position to waive their money, but many won’t be in that positions.
Clubs still have the furlough scheme at their disposal for contracted players for a few more months, but that will come to an end at a time when fans won’t be allowed back in grounds.
When that happens hundreds of clubs up and down the country won’t be able to fulfil those contracts.
So, with or without a Government loan or grant, there is still going to be a big problem somewhere down the line.
I imagine some clubs have been savvy enough to insert Covid clauses or null and void clauses into contract, so they don’t have to pay the contracts if the season is curtailed.
Only this week I learned about a club at Northern Premier League level signing players on contracts from a higher level.
Those are contracts they are having to fulfil without games being played and with a chance the season will not continue.
That is well and truly money down the drain.
And it also shows that despite the Covid challenges being presented to clubs, some are still not learning.
Either way there will be a problem for non-league at some stage, with or without a government loan or grant.