Boston United

The National League North & South season has been declared null and void after clubs voted to end the campaign.

Fears of a lack of financial support, due to the government changing the offer to football clubs from grants to loans, was the primary factor in the decision.

It will mean promotion chasing Boston United will play no more games this season and league positions will be scrapped entirely.

Clubs were informed that while government funding would still be given to them from January to March, it would need to be paid back at some point.

Of the 22 clubs in the National League North, fifteen voted to end the campaign, Boston were not one of those teams.

The season was temporarily halted for two weeks on January 22 to allow for clubs to make a decision and vote on the outcome, with growing coronavirus cases a major concern.

It is another setback for Boston, who moved into a new stadium this season and haven’t yet been able to play a game in front of fans at the Jakemans Community Stadium.

Boston were in sixth place, inside the play-off positions, having played just 13 games, before the season was voided.

Boston United chairman David Newton. | Photo: Boston United FC

Boston United chairman David Newton said the club voted to carry on the season, and he is disappointed by the verdict.

Mr Newton said: “While respecting the outcome of the vote that was announced earlier, we are extremely disappointed that the season has been declared null and void. We voted to continue believing, on balance, this was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

“It has been a very difficult year for the club, but all through this, the squad and management team have remained positive and have continued to work hard despite not knowing when the next fixture would be played.

“We all genuinely felt that we had a real chance of promotion this season.

“This is therefore a bitter blow for everyone at Boston United – but of course this goes much wider.”

Boston United will have no games for two weeks, as the National League North and South divisions come to a temporary halt.

It comes after a review of feedback from all clubs in the sixth tier of English football, which will see football at that level paused for two weeks.

The move is effective immediately, meaning Boston United’s home fixture against Brackley Town has been postponed until further notice.

A board meeting with the National League decided to put a stop to football at that level, amid growing concerns of rising coronavirus cases and winter financial packages.

Clubs were informed that while government funding was still likely from January to March, it would be in the form of loans rather than grants should football continue to go ahead.

Boston United chairman David Newton. | Photo: Boston United FC

Boston United chairman David Newton issued a statement on Thursday outlining the club’s stance in relation to the season, saying that he supported the decision to suspend the season.

“Clubs were also asked to give their views on a potential four-to-six-week suspension of the competition.

“After lengthy discussions within the club, we confirmed that we would, on balance, support this.

“We are a football club so, of course, we want to be playing games, but our decision took into account a number of factors.

“We are somewhat uncomfortable playing when the pandemic is at its peak and a large part of the population are locked down.

“Despite the strict Covid protocols we have in place, there is always a risk to players, staff and their families, and that has to be paramount in decision-making.

“We would, of course, need to know the detail relating to any suspension – and planned restart – before offering our final support to the proposal.”

Boston United completed the signing of 24-year-old striker Jake Wright on a free transfer.

Wright, who will wear the number 24 shirt for Boston, became a free agent after suffering a serious injury for the Pilgrims in last season’s promotion final against Altrincham.

Jake scored 10 goals in 29 appearances for Boston United and will now pick up where he left off with the club, starting with Saturday’s National League North game away to Alfreton Town.

Pilgrims boss Craig Elliott said he is delighted to sign Wright, who he describes as a “top striker at this level.”

“I am delighted to be able to sign Jake again, I think it’s clear to see that when Jake is fit and playing games, he is a top striker at this level.

“He has worked extremely hard to recover from a severe hamstring injury and get himself fit.

“Jake has had a lot of bad luck with injuries and I really hope he now has a bit of good luck and an injury-free season with us.”

Boston United currently sit inside the National League North play-off places, in sixth position, with promotion firmly in their sights.

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