With such clichés decent posts are built – possibly. It’s fair to say the playoff picture has somehow become a little murkier after the last round of matches… Ok, the Dons are looking good for second, and Luton will follow us into third place, but despite Wrexham’s victory their ability to contest the playoffs has been called into question once again, while Kidderminster’s victory over Fleetwood has ensured that battle goes down to the wire.
The Wrexham thing is interesting. Reports in todays NLP suggest that not only may they be barred from competing in the playoffs, but the side finishing sixth will not be replacing them, instead the second place side will receive a bye.Now of course this was just a report from a media outlet, and I’m not buying it… I don’t mean I don’t believe it, I mean I haven’t bought the NLP for ages, but had a quick skim of the article in my local newsagent, cursing the fact I hadn’t bought more change with me but accepting the extra detail I could have discerned from actually buying it probably wasn’t worth £1.50 of my money anyway.
Effectively, Wrexham need to pay their outstanding £200,000 tax bill before the Luton game or face the prospect of being barred from the playoffs. I say prospect, as we still haven’t heard anything officially from the Conference to confirm their actions, but it seems likely if the bill isn’t paid Wrexham’s place in the playoffs will be pretty untenable regardless. Under these circumstances, the second place side will go straight to Manchester, with the third place side facing off against whoever else manages to qualify…
Now, firstly this seems strange, as the Conference already seem to have rules in place relating to what happens if a club is excluded for ground grading purposes – we are seeing it in the BSN with Eastwood. Which is all right and proper… if Eastwood were to pip Nuneaton or Guiseley, they would have effectively gained a financial advantage by failing in their requirements to ensure their stadium was up to scratch, as their competitors had managed to do.
Yet in this situation, a club cheated out of a playoff place misses out, you have to wonder why it seems this course of action will be followed? Did the Conference already have a ruling on this, was it published and advised to clubs in advance, and if so why does it differ to their policy on ground grading? Have they taken a look at the league table and noticed another financial basket case in Kidderminster could be the ones to benefit? The Conference have been pretty strict this season on financial mismanagement, and rightly so, but football clubs seem to have a knack of managing to find more and more creative ways of getting into trouble, to the point entrance into the playoffs may end up being decided by which contenders have been financially mismanaged the least.
Either way, the news gives the Dons a huge incentive to gain that vital point in order to confirm second place, just in case… You know if Luton pip us for second place it’s just our luck they’ll go on and get a bye to the final… that’s just our luck.
My hunch is the bill will get paid. I’m by no means an expert on the financial goings on up at the Racecourse, but it does seem they’re fairly odious owners stand to lose a lot more than £200,000 if they allow the club to slide into administration. The Wrexham Trust has a tidy little nest egg tucked away, which the owners have been trying to get their grubby hands on for quite some time. Naturally the trust don’t want to hand over the cash, which will pay off this debt quite easily, only for their resources to be drained and the club find themselves in similar problems next season… and if Wrexham were ever to fall into administration or worse, you would imagine that money will come in quite handy.
The owners recent attempts at bluffing the trust out of their cash revolved around some disinformation relating to a reformed Wrexham side being barred from the English pyramid and forced into the Welsh system, and failed miserably. Now they are gambling on football supporters more base instincts… if the money isn’t paid, the club won’t have the money to cover the bill and will be barred from promotion. While both sides have their poker faces on at the moment its hard to know who will crack, but as the owners have before its likely they will again… unless of course they really can’t find the money, in which case all bets are off…
Battling for that final position, the race now seems to be solely between Fleetwood and Kidderminster. In fact victory for the former at Barrow coupled with the latter failure to beat Rushden will finish it, yet for the time being even Darlington still have a mathematical chance of making it, although their 2-0 victory over York on Saturday was probably more notable for effectively ending their visitors hopes.
Amid all this uncertainly the Dons head to Forest Green, fielding a rotated side that will presumably be missing Hatton, Johnson, Gregory and Kedwell, among others. An unprecedented five Dons players found themselves in the provisional England C squad, but there is a reason it’s provisional… congratulations to Brown, Hatton, Gregory, Jolley and Luke Moore, but here’s hoping none of them get the opportunity to represent their country this time around – with the playoff final only days after England take on Portugal, I’m kind of hoping the Dons contingent will be otherwise engaged…