National League side Gateshead have launched an official appeal against the sanctions issued against them at the end of the 2018-19 season. The penalties included their suspension from the competition and a refusal of a licence for the 2019-20 season, which currently means they would face a double relegation from fifth tier football. They had also been fined £3,500 and given a nine point penalty for the 2018-19 season that has seen them dropped from 9th to 17th in that final season table.
It is of course the refusal of a licence to play in the National League next season that is the greatest motive for their appeal. The Tyne and Wear club are currently in the process of finalising a supporter-led takeover of their club, led by Neil Pinkerton and Trevor Clark, who have now purchased the shareholding of the club from Hong Kong based businessman Ranjan Varghese. It is the infringements committed under the Varghese ownership that have provoked the sanctions by the National League, with the club having failed to pay players wages, as well as being kicked out of their Gateshead International Stadium, after falling behind on their rental payments.
As such, Gateshead were deemed to be in breach of Football Creditors rules, and were without an active leasehold agreement for a stadium to stage matches for the 2019-20 season. That led to the National League's decision to throw them out of the league. However, with the new men now officially in charge - backed by the club's Gateshead Soul Supporters Association, and two former Rochdale Board members in Chris Dunphy and Bill Goodwin, they are now planning forward and have submitted a written appeal that according to the Sunderland Echo has now been received by the Football Association.
It's not been stated under what basis the appeal has been launched, although the Echo states that the new Board have agreed a five year lease with Gateshead Council who own the stadium, and are currently working through the debts clocked up by the previous incumbents. Any appeal will need to be heard quickly by the FA if it is to not cause chaos throughout tier five, six and seven of the English football pyramid. The National League AGM is due to take place on June 8th 2019, when the league pledged to confirm the 68 clubs that would form their three divisions for the 2019-20 season, with the Northern Premier League also potentially impacted depending on the outcome of Gateshead's case.
For Yeovil Town, the main question will be whether they take on Gateshead for the first time since the 1997-98 season, or whether Aldershot Town would earn a reprieve from their 2018-19 relegation. Yeovil Town have not played competitively against the 1992 incarnation of the Shots, with the last match involving a team from Aldershot coming in the form of three FA Cup First Round ties during November 1955 against the club that existed between 1926 and 1992.
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