100 days without football: the big Chesterfield talking points from the takeover to John Pemberton's position
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At the time of writing, 114 days have passed since the Spireites had to settle for a point away at Dover Athletic on March 14.
I don’t think any of us leaving the Crabble Stadium that day thought it would be Town’s final game of the season.
Certainly John Pemberton did not. The word to the players on the coach back was: “Take a few days off and we’ll meet up again next week.”
But that never happened and the country went into lockdown on March 23.
So what’s actually happened in the last 114 days?Let’s take a look at some of the big talking points…
Barrow crowned champions...then Evatt leaves
On April 22 National League clubs voted to end the regular season immediately.
After much speculation and uncertainty, clubs then voted to decide league positions using the points per game (PPG) method.
This meant Barrow, who had topped the table by four points when the campaign was halted, were crowned champions and promoted to League Two.
Despite the achievement, manager Ian Evatt decided to jump ship and take over as head coach of Bolton Wanderers.
Barnet were the big winners of PPG - jumping from 11th to seventh and joining Harrogate Town, Notts County, Yeovil Town, Boreham Wood and FC Halifax Town in the play-offs which will start on July 17 and be broadcast on BT Sport. The matches will be played behind closed doors, including the final, which will be held at Wembley on August 2.
The Spireites slipped one place to 20th on PPG but avoided relegation which looked on the cards at Christmas time.
As it stands, Chorley, AFC Fylde and Ebbsfleet United will be relegated from the National League but this is yet to be rubber-stamped.
The trio’s future depends on if the National League North and South play-offs go ahead. At the moment, the play-offs in these divisions are set to take place later this month. But if they were scrapped for any reason, such as a second outbreak of the coronavirus, then all three of them would get a reprieve and not be relegated.
King’s Lynn won the National League North and Wealdstone took the National League South crown so those two will definitely be playing at step one level next season.
What we don’t know for certain is whether it will be Stevenage or Macclesfield who will be relegated from League Two into the National League. Stevenage finished rock-bottom but Macclesfield, one place and one point above them, could be deducted more points for failing to pay their players on time back in March. The Silkmen were initially docked two points, suspended from a previous charge, but the English Football League has appealed the decision. If the EFL win their appeal, then Macclesfield could receive a bigger points deduction and be relegated instead of Stevenage.
To complicate matters, both teams could avoid relegation if the EFL do not receive assurances from the National League that next season will go ahead. In simple terms, the EFL do not want to relegate any team if they won’t have a league to play in.
In terms of when the 2020/2021 National League season may start, mid-September is the target date but there has been no official confirmation yet. It is expected that once the EFL start date has been announced then the National League will follow.
To clarify, John Pemberton is still the caretaker manager.
Pemberton is understood to want the job on a permanent basis and it is expected that he will be appointed as manager whether the club changes ownership or not.
Before he was furloughed the 55-year-old had been planning for next season and making decisions on out of contract players and potential new signings.
He and the players are likely to remain on furlough for the remainder of this month.
When the situation becomes clearer with the proposed takeover and when the new season will start then an announcement will be made on his position.
Pivotal week for the takeover
For anyone who doesn’t know (where have you been) the Chesterfield FC Community Trust has been working on a deal to buy the club since September last year.
In January we were told it was ‘close’ but the trust suffered funding setbacks and then the pandemic struck.
Next week (w/c July 13) is a pivotal one for the trust. One of their ‘funding partners’, Chesterfield Borough Council, is meeting on Tuesday (July 14) to rubber-stamp or refuse the trust the money they require to buy the club.
A successful outcome is likely to mean that the trust will be confirmed as the new owners by the end of the month. But if not then the trust’s bid to purchase the club will have reached a dead end and Dave Allen will likely remain the owner for another season unless he can find an alternative buyer.
How’s the squad looking?
Currently, Chesterfield have 10 players under contract for another year (Luke Coddington, Will Evans, Laurence Maguire, Josef Yarney, David Buchanan, Curtis Weston, Joe Rowley, Scott Boden).
While Jonathan Smith, Haydn Hollis, Tom Denton, Jamie Sharman, Regan Hutchinson and Luke Rawson have all agreed new contracts “in principle.”
The club, like the majority of others, is not in a position to sign any new players yet but once the start date for the new season is announced then things should start picking up pace.