SHOULD THE NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH AND SOUTH PLAY-OFFS TAKE PLACE AT A NEUTRAL VENUE?

By Charlie Russell

Earlier this year the Non-League paper reported that there was a proposal for the National League North and South’s play-off finals to be played at a neutral venue.

With the idea of both games being held on the same day in the same venue like the FA Vase and FA Trophy finals both are, the question on many fan’s minds is: “Where would it be played?”

The ground which was in the proposal at the time was Stadium MK, MK Dons’ 30,500 all seated ground which opened in 2007.

With Milton Keynes being based in the South this venue would be suitable for the Southern side’s but some people in the National League North may protest about a southern-based stadium and request for a Midlands venue as an alternative.

Midlands-based venues which are suitable include Coventry City’s 32,609 seated Ricoh Arena or Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Molineux Stadium which holds a total of 31,700.

However, these grounds may be too big for the size of the division even if both North and South were to be played on the same day.

This season, if Salford and Chorley were to play each other in the National League North final alongside Hampton & Richmond and Chelmsford City from the Southern division on the same day then a 30,000 plus stadium may be seen as too large and a more adequate suitable ground could be Bescot Stadium, which holds 11,300.

Salford City are in the running for promotion to the National League, but will the win the play-offs at home or away.

Darlington 1883 missed out on the play-offs this season despite finishing fifth, this was due to their stadium not being adequate to cater for life in the National League.

However, Darlington supporter LoidLucan posted on fan’s forum darlofc.co.uk regarding the suggestion of a play-off final at Mk Dons saying: “It’s ironic that the town that essentially stole a League club rather than have to form a side to battle its way through the non-league pyramid may get to host a non-league showpiece like this.”

The current format for National League North and South being, whoever finishes higher in the domestic season gets to play the final at their home stadium. This has always been questioned over the years and therefore the previous proposal was supported by many.

Another option which has been suggested is that the play-off final consists of two legs, home and away as the South American Copa Libertadores de América is formatted.

Mirror sports journalist Aaron Flanagan took to Twitter to give his opinions regarding if the play-offs should take place at a neutral venue saying: “Definitely not in my opinion, I like the way teams get a home advantage as a reward for their season.”

However, Lincoln City supporter Nick Procter said that it: “100% has to be neutral.”



Where Creative Commons images are used on this site we endeavour to credit the owners of those images.