AFC Fylde chief Jonty Castle campaigns for club's right to play on

AFC Fylde’s fight to keep their season and their promotion dream alive is continuing behind the scenes this week.

Wednesday, 24th February 2021, 12:30 pm

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AFC Fylde lead 18-club campaign to play on after vote to scrap their season

The Gazette understands further meetings have taken place as clubs, such as Fylde, who wish to carry on playing press their case to the National League. Further developments are anticipated this week.

National Leagues North and South were scrapped with immediate effect last Thursday, when their clubs voted 24-19 to declare the campaign null and void.

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Chief executive Jonty Castle is fighting for Fylde to complete their season

But within 24 hours the Coasters were spearheading a campaign to overturn the ruling and were among 18 clubs to sign an open letter to the National League’s acting general manager Mark Ives.

Fylde chief executive Jonty Castle has been co-ordinating the campaign from Mill Farm and told Sky Sports: “We have presented our open letter to Mark Ives and he will take that to the FA now.

“We believe the open letter was the right thing to do to present him with an opportunity to find a different solution.

“I think the lens needs to switch and focus on those who do want to continue. I believe the footballing family should allow us to continue.

“As long as there are enough teams, the fixtures of those teams who want to continue should be played.”

Given that only seven of the clubs wishing to continue are from NL North, their most realistic hope of playing on would probably be to join forces with NL South clubs in a unified competition, though it is unclear as yet how this would work.

The clubs’ decision to void the season is yet to be ratified by the FA Council, while the National League acknowledges that the vote has created questions over promotion and relegation which need to be resolved.

Castle believes that Fylde and likeminded clubs are offering a solution to that problem. He added: “Our fallback position is a combined league.

“We entered into the season knowing we would be playing for promotion and relegation. You would hope and expect that the National League would support the North and South continuing to protect the integrity of that relationship with the EFL.

“It is not hurting anyone to let us continue. Nineteen clubs have voted to carry on, more will consider it. There are no losers in letting us continue to play football.

“Clubs are in different financial positions and some have chosen not to continue. For those clubs that have been afforded the opportunity to freeze the season and re-enter the pyramid at the same level next season, great. They can go into hibernation and get themselves ready to start next season in August with fans.

“We just want the opportunity to play on and see if we can achieve that aspiration of promotion back to the National League.”

This is the second successive year that Fylde stand to lose out from a vote to end the season early.

Last season they were relegated from the National League when a final table drawn up on a points-per-game basis left them second-bottom.

This season has ended with them second in National League North and with games in hand on leaders Gloucester City in their quest to bounce back at the first attempt.

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