DARLINGTON manager Alun Armstrong says that he fully backs the club’s decision to vote for the National League North season to be declared null and void.

In the absence of any DCMS grant funding from January onwards, Quakers voted for the league season to be declared null and void, and while they’re awaiting the result of the vote, they decided not to play Tuesday night’s home game with Boston, and for the same reason Saturday’s home game with Fylde is in serious doubt.

“We all want to play football and continue the league season, but the club’s long-term future must come first,” he said on the club’s official website. “We were heading for a very exciting season but the fans have already been to hell and back more than once and there’s no way I want that to happen again.

“The fans have dragged this club back from the brink with their own money, not money from some rich benefactor but money from people who sacrifice things within their own personal life to financially support their football club. That alongside the amount of volunteer work that has gone into getting us where we are since 2012 is phenomenal, therefore it’s not something that the club should be risking. “Furthermore, why any club would want to take out a six-figure loan for the next ten years for just over three months of football is financial suicide in my eyes.

“Most people now know that there’s no way the season would have started, therefore activating players’ contracts without enough funding in place.

“If the clubs knew that there would be no funding or no fans from January onwards it’s a certainty we wouldn’t be in this position so why are we still being forced to continue?

“Clubs have been led up the garden path and are currently going around the houses at this current time taking on extra costs which is putting some clubs on the brink. “Once the League knew the funding wasn’t coming then the three divisions should have been suspended to safeguard their member clubs as part of the agreement at the start of the season, but hindsight is a wonderful thing in football!

“One thing that has massively surprised me is the call from the so-called richer clubs to continue at all costs while nothing is on the table, I find that absolutely baffling and totally against what non-league is all about.”

Armstrong defended Quakers’ decision to continue playing in the FA Trophy, in which they play Hornchurch in the quarter finals at Blackwell Meadows next Saturday.

“I can understand some people thinking that we shouldn’t be playing in the competition but look at clubs from leagues below who are still playing in it (such as our quarter final opponents Hornchurch) and the clubs that continued to play in the FA Cup while they weren’t playing in their leagues -- it gives clubs the chance to get some much-needed revenue. Imagine telling Marine you can’t play in the FA Cup as you’re not playing in any league games!!!

“The prize money from the last round of the Trophy covered a week’s wages for us which means we don’t have to claim the furlough for that week so everyone’s a winner. It’s a risky strategy but a worthwhile one because as I said there’s much needed revenue at stake and you can’t begrudge any club trying to get any extra revenue in at this time. I’m sure any other club would do the same – there is £82,500 worth of prize money at stake still.”

He also criticised the idea of a mini-league of clubs who want to continue. “It’s just another example of the haves and have nots with money dictating who can and can’t play.

“I repeat and will continue to repeat alongside every other club that all clubs WANT to continue but they can’t afford it through no fault of their own. The majority of the teams in the NLS, some teams in the NLN and even some in the NL must have thought Xmas had come early with the original grant funding handed out by the league, receiving way more than they would get on a normal monthly basis. “Remember it was for lost gate revenue yet the majority of those clubs only get gates of 400-500 so they were heavily subsidised. You don’t have to be a mathematician to work out that the well supported clubs in all three leagues including ourselves, were massively sold short with the way the money was distributed.”

He believes that players’ welfare has been forgotten about in these turbulent last few weeks.

“All this stop/start, playing not playing, can we train or can’t we? It’s not good for players at this moment in time as it is putting them at a much higher risk of injuries, as we’ve endured ourselves. To top it off I’ve now seen clubs furloughing all their main first team and bringing in non-contract or academy players to take their place just to fulfil their fixtures and avoid sanctions from the league.”