FOOTBALL - Solihull Moors chairman Eales slams National League over play-off schedule - The Solihull Observer

FOOTBALL - Solihull Moors chairman Eales slams National League over play-off schedule

Solihull Editorial 23rd Apr, 2024 Updated: 23rd Apr, 2024   0

SOLIHULL Moors chairman Darryl Eales confirmed the club have registered a formal complaint with the National League over their handling of the play-offs.

Eales released a strongly-worded statement condemning the league’s decision to schedule their eliminator with Halifax Town on Wednesday night with the winner of the tie now at a disadvantage to the other teams in the play-offs.

Moors were originally due to play Gateshead in a play-off eliminator on Tuesday, April 23 only for the latter side to be denied entry to the play-offs after failing to meet the entry criteria for membership to the EFL.

The National League created confusion after releasing a statement which said Moors would receive a bye to the semi-finals in light of Gateshead’s inability to compete in the play-offs.

Hours later, the National League released a second statement confirming Moors would in fact play Halifax in an eliminator later this week with Altrincham handed a bye instead.

And despite Moors now having to play their eliminator on Wednesday night, should Solihull progress they will then play Barnet on Saturday, April 27 with only two full days of rest in between.

The statement reads: “Solihull Moors has digested the various announcements published by the National League.

“Firstly and foremost, whilst we are obviously unaware of the details behind the decision, we share Gateshead’s disappointment. They have had a wonderful season and we send our thoughts and best wishes to their players, fans and officials. We would much prefer promotion to be decided on sporting merit.

“As a club of a similar size, we completely understand the challenges and costs of meeting EFL ground regulations.

“We look forward to meeting them again at Wembley on May 11th and having a wonderful day out – and allowing football to bring a smile to everyone’s face.

“Turning to the decision making, we would welcome more clarity in the near future as to the rules and their application following the Gateshead decision.

“What surprises us is why addressing this issue was not planned for well in advance. The League must have been aware that it was a possibility and could easily have planned for this contingency rather than being seemingly influenced by who shouts loudest and being driven by events.

“It is critical for the integrity of the game that everyone, – fans, managers, players and owners – has complete transparency and understanding of the interpretation of the rules and the League’s decision making process.

“Having said this, we are fully in agreement that, on sporting merit, Altrincham should receive the bye rather than Solihull Moors. The rules should be explicit on this. If they are not, they should be changed.

“The decision making thereafter seems somewhat illogical, most specifically putting the winner of the Moors versus Halifax game at a newly created disadvantage.

“The play off rules are clearly articulated, especially the need for a full 3 day gap between the quarter final and semi final, which was agreed following debate 2 years ago re the scheduling.

“These are amongst the biggest games in any club’s history and this situation has taken much of the joy away at a time of celebration.

“We simply don’t know why the Moors game against Halifax could not have been played on the Tuesday – the original date for Moors versus Gateshead – or why the game against Barnet for the winners could not have been moved to the Sunday.

“There was plenty of time to arrange this yesterday.

“Moors, at the request of the League did not start selling tickets after our game against York on Saturday, as previously planned, causing us significant inconvenience and we have held our own counsel throughout yesterday’s events with Moors having originally been given a bye – and planning accordingly – then to be told to play on Wednesday not Tuesday – and now to be placed at a playing disadvantage of the League’s making.

“The position both Halifax and Moors find themselves is prejudicial to two teams who have acted with professionalism throughout and is contrary to the spirit of the sporting integrity of the playoffs.

“Moors registered a formal complaint at the situation that the League has created, of its own making.

“The League has hitherto failed to explain why the dates of the two semi finals could not be reversed – this would have been straightforward and equitable and there was plenty of time over the weekend to do this.

“Moors have had to change opponents and timing with far less notice – and with far more disruption.

“We are sure this issue will be debated in full by all clubs at the upcoming League AGM when we hope the executive of the League will explain everything in appropriate detail and be open to a full debate to ensure the rules explicitly cater for such situation and all its consequences.

“Ultimately, Solihull Moors are dismayed that they are the only team prejudiced by the series of events and poor management by the League.

“Nevertheless, we will now abide by the decision and look forward to welcoming Halifax on Wednesday.”

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