Dover Athletic’s 2020/21 season has been expunged after the National League dished out penalties to clubs that failed to fulfil their fixtures during the coronavirus pandemic.
The division’s bottom side, who have only played 15 times this season compared to at least 27 by the rest, are one of 16 teams punished for breaching rule 8.39 of the league’s statutes.
Dover will play no further part in the current season and see their results wiped out, along with a 12-point deduction to start with next season and a £40,000 fine.
These are the results of findings by an “independent panel” commissioned by the National League, who have deemed Dover and others do not have “just cause” to have not fulfilled their fixtures despite the club’s chairman insisting there is no money to do so.
Jim Parmenter recently told the Non-League Paper: “The ‘just cause’ is simple’. The National League promised us grants if we started in October and that they would continue if things didn’t get back to normal.
“The grants haven’t continued since December. We’ve run out of our reserves, so haven’t got any money, so will be insolvent if we continue playing, which is illegal.”
Solidarity to the other clubs affected, sometimes you wonder why you do this in the first place. We’ll work together for the good of the game and hope that change is swift.
— Dulwich Hamlet FC (H) (@DulwichHamletFC) March 26, 2021
The National League’s statement said: “The panel had regard to financial information provided by Dover Athletic and fully respected the responsibility of the club’s directors under company law. However, the panel also had to consider the integrity of the competition and the actions of Dover in relation to the other 22 Clubs that continue to incur much costs as they fulfill their fixtures.
“In view of the current financial situation and in order to reflect the approach taken in other cases of breaches of rule 8.39, the independent panel reduced the initial fine by 20 per cent to £40,000.”
Dulwich Hamlet, meanwhile, are among 16 clubs in National League North and South – the next tier down – to have been given a suspended points deduction for failing to complete fixtures in a season that has already been declared null and void.
The club said on Twitter: “Well, we’re not quite sure what to say about this one… DHFC have been fined £8,000 and given a suspended eight-point deduction for failure to fulfil fixtures when the funded stopped and we were awaiting the decision to null and void the season. Thanks, Vanarama National League.”
The League statement continued: “Given the extremely unusual circumstances that have affected football at all levels and the financial pressures the absence of spectators has brought to bear on clubs, the panel expressed its sympathy with the clubs’ predicament.
“However, the panel believes it must also take regard of the fact that the majority of clubs continued to fulfil fixtures and incur much costs until the League ended on February 19.”
King’s Lynn Town and Southport were also given suspended fines for breaching the National League’s Covid-19 protocols, including for “an unintentional error” by King’s Lynn.