CHIPPENHAM Town chairman Neil Blackmore says the National League is trying to bully clubs into playing on this season by forcing them to take out loans they cannot afford.

The Bluebirds’ boss said the club has the money to tick over while no income is available, but that a return to playing would leave Chippenham in a precarious position.

Blackmore stated that at the start of the season, the conditions under which all National League clubs agreed to begin playing was centred around the promise that grants would be available to help everyone reach the end of the season in a financially solvent state.

However, the Chippenham chairman says Sport England have recanted on their earlier promise, and that only loans will be available for the vast majority of clubs.

Blackmore said his team will not play on while this is the case as loading the club with more debt after working so hard to reduce it is something he never wants to do.

He said: “It’s been very disappointing from the National League because their response to clubs like us, who have said we’re not going to play on, is to try and threaten and bully us into taking loans and playing.

“That, for me, is completely against the good governance of football and everything the FA tells you. They want clubs to operate in a business-like manner and be financially solvent, and yet the National League is trying to bully us into taking loans that we can’t afford and forcing us to be insolvent, basically.

“I’ve been at the club for eight years - the board and I have worked really hard to massively reduce the club’s debt. We’re not debt-free yet, but we’re a lot better off than we were. Why would I want to saddle the club with more debt?”

Blackmore’s fighting words extended past just the National League, and the eight-year Bluebirds chairman turned his frustration to Sport England after rumours emerged that no minutes were taken at the National League’s meeting with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport back in September.

He said: “Since Christmas, we haven’t had any funding from anybody – we’ve had to pay to keep the club running ourselves. We got to February and said to the National League: “we’ve paid for a month by ourselves, what’s happening now?”

“Sport England then came along and told us there is no grant funding. It will be in the form of loans unless you’re in real trouble.

“When the National League had the meeting with the DCMS back in September, allegedly, no minutes were taken at that meeting. The government is now saying that they never said there would be grant funding for the whole season, and the National League is saying: “yes, you did.”

“We want to finish the season, but we need grant funding to do it because we just don’t have the money. We, and another of other clubs, have said we’re not going to play until this is sorted out one way or another.”