Slough say they don't want to travel to Eastbourne Borough - league says: You have to

The National League crisis has taken a new twist - with Eastbourne Borough's opponents on Saturday, Slough Town, being told by the National League they must fulfil the fixture - even though they don't want to.

Eastbourne take on Slough last season - a year and a week ago / Picture: Lydia Redman
Eastbourne take on Slough last season - a year and a week ago / Picture: Lydia Redman

Borough have tonight issued a statement saying: "Following various concerns raised, Eastbourne Borough Football Club can confirm after communication from the National League that this Saturday's fixture against Slough Town FC is scheduled to take place, KO 3pm."

John Bonar, Boro CEO, said: "We were made aware that Slough Town are reluctant to travel on Saturday. We understand there is no Covid in the Slough camp, and that this relates to the National League funding crisis. We have contacted the National League, who have instructed both clubs that the match is to go ahead.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

"The first team has trained this evening (Thursday). All players tested negative before the session, and will be tested again before the game on Saturday."

Reluctant is perhaps not strong enough a word. They have told the National League the season should be suspended immediately following news clubs will be getting only loans - not grants - to cover their costs for playing the next three months without fans.

The blow over finances has plunged the whole league into crisis, with clubs being asked which of three options they back. Eastbourne Borough have backed an option which would mean clubs DO get grants but from the league - affecting future league payments to clubs - but Slough are pushing for the option of suspending the season.

Slough said in their own statement, made public on Thursday, that they had sent an email to Mark Ives, Interim General Manager of the National League on Wednesday night in response to his request for feedback on the three options discussing during a meeting with member clubs.

Their email said: Dear Mark, we have this evening given consideration to the 3 options presented to us today. We would support OPTION 3 (season suspension), which is, as you know what we have been suggesting for some time now.

"Neither Option 1 or 2 make any sense from a business perspective and we are not prepared to put our club into a long term financially unsustainable position by taking loans or a grant which is repayable (which is in effect what Option 2 is). Given the need for a speedy decision on the part of the clubs, we would expect that a similarly quick decision will be taken by the board and any suspension to be in place before Saturday.

"By playing fixtures on Saturday, clubs will have to pay their players an additional week and in our case, incur the biggest travel cost of the season. As soon as the decision is made to suspend, we can move our players to furlough, thus avoiding further costs.

"If the decision is to suspend, it MUST be made immediately. As a club we will go as far as to say that we do not propose to travel to Eastbourne on Saturday to fulfil a fixture which could be meaningless, incur unnecessary costs and put our players at risk.

"We will have a separate discussion regarding Saturday with the Fixtures team and also with Eastbourne, but our position is clear. The issue can be avoided, by making your decision prior to the weekend."

How the story has unfolded this week