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

Earlier this year the Non-League paper reported that there was a proposal for the National League North and South 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?”

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Stadium MK -The home of the MK Dons was proposed as a possible venue for the Play-Off finals.

The ground which was proposed 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 based sides but some clubs 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.

A more adequate suitable ground could be Bescot Stadium, which holds 11,300 and is the home of Walsall FC.

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Bescot Stadium was used for England’s UEFA European U21 Championship’s Group 9 qualifier.

Andy Fisher made a point in the National League, North, South Facebook page saying: “Wait and see who the finalists are and find an adequately sized ground in the middle of the two.

“For example, Gigg Lane (Bury) for Salford vs Chorley.”

Therefore, this is one reason why it has been suggested by some fans that the ground is decided at the end of each season depending on the size of those teams who are involved.

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This season’s play-off final will be played at the side who finished higher in the league.

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 Football League club rather than have to form a side to battle their 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 is set out as 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.

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Salford City are one side fighting for promotion via the play-offs.

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 earlier 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.”

Give your opinions by taking part in the poll below:

This was originally posted on LT Journalism by Charlie Russell.

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