AFC Fylde chief hasn't given up on their promotion hope
AFC Fylde owner David Haythornthwaite believes promotion to the National League is still possible despite their hopes of completing the season on the field being dashed.
Clubs voted to terminate the season for National League North and South last month due to ongoing problems arising from the pandemic.
Proposals for a combined league drawn up by clubs who wished to play on, including Fylde, were rejected by the FA two weeks ago.
That may not be the end of Fylde’s hopes of bouncing back to non-league football’s top tier at the first attempt.
Haythornthwaite told The Gazette: “The National League is a club down and would be two down if the FA expel Dover.
“It may be that the FA decide to even things up and get the National League back up to 24 clubs for next season, and so promote a club from National League North and National League South. That may happen.”
Fylde were second in National League North when the season was curtailed but would be top if last season’s points-per-game system was again applied, having played fewer matches than leaders Gloucester City.
The National League has operated all season with 23 clubs following the expulsion of Macclesfield Town.
The Dover Athletic situation has yet to be resolved. The south coast club have refused to play since January, with chairman Jim Parmenter citing financial problems since government grant aid ran out and placing all the club’s players and staff on furlough.
Haythornthwaite added: “I think Dover will be expelled because they are not fulfilling their fixtures and observing the rules, and I think the FA should come down hard on them.”
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler is fearful of relegation and said last week: “It’s been confirmed there’s no relegation from our league but my worry is we still could be relegated because obviously there has got to be a decision made on ourselves in terms of our decision to stop playing and us being the only team who’s not (playing).
“That will be decided by the powers that be. The chairman will have his people in place to deal with whatever comes our way and I’m sure he would appeal it.
“He has made that decision to stop for one reason and one reason only – to save the club and make sure we have football next season.”
The Fylde players are currently taking a break as manager Jim Bentley finalises plans for a longer than anticipated close season.
Should the Coasters again be in NL North, their 2021/22 campaign will begin on August 14.
However, this season continues for Fylde Women and the club’s Under-18s, who both look forward to big cup clashes over Easter.
Fylde face Chelsea in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup in Kingston-upon-Thames on Good Friday.
It follows a dramatic 3-2 win for Conrad Prendergast’s side away to Cambridge United in the third round last week.
Fylde Women will meet Burnley in Padiham on Easter Sunday in the second round of the Women’s FA Cup.
Kim Turner and Danielle Young’s squad can conduct formal training sessions for the first time this year from Monday, as lockdown restrictions are eased, ahead of what will be their first fixture since December 13.
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