Gateshead barred from play-offs after ground fails to meet EFL entry criteria

By Sports Desk April 21, 2024

Gateshead have been withdrawn from the Vanarama National League play-offs after failing to meet the entry criteria for membership into the Football League.

The north-east club finished sixth in the National League standings and were poised for a trip to Solihull Moors on Tuesday, with the winners advancing to a semi-final against Barnet on Saturday.

But because Gateshead were unable to meet the 10-year security of tenure at the Gateshead International Stadium, Solihull have instead been handed a bye directly into next weekend’s clash against the Bees.

Gateshead lobbied its town council, which owns the stadium, to provide the security of tenure and after that was turned down, the National League wrote in support of the club’s application.

A National League statement said “the response received was not supportive of the club’s requirements” and while options were offered to the club by the council, this was unsatisfactory for the EFL.

An EFL statement said: “Gateshead Football Club will not be permitted by the National League to participate in this season’s play-offs as the terms of the club’s occupation at the Gateshead International Stadium, owned by the Borough Council of Gateshead, does not meet the relevant qualifying criteria to enable the club to become a Member of the EFL.

“All other clubs permitted to play in the National League play-offs adhered to the requirements as set out in EFL regulations.”

Gateshead lodged an appeal, backed by the National League, against the “irrational or unreasonable” decision but the EFL confirmed that “has now been rejected after consideration by an independent arbitrator”.

The National League said it is “disappointed with the decision” but “recognise the entry requirements are clearly stated in the EFL rules”.

Gateshead, who are set to play Solihull Moors in the FA Trophy final on May 11, say they are “extremely disappointed” and will continue to object to both the National League and EFL on the outcome.

A club statement said: “Rest assured we will continue to challenge both on their decisions and we will endeavour to ensure that footballing matters are decided on the pitch.

“Our players and staff remain 100 per cent focused on the task in hand and we wish to go on record to express our gratitude to National League for supporting our challenge to the EFL.”

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