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Robins vow to finish season

Buxton's Bradley Grayson is shadowed by Ilkeston's Charlie Scanlon on Tuesday night. Photo: James Williamson.
Buxton's Bradley Grayson is shadowed by Ilkeston's Charlie Scanlon on Tuesday night. Photo: James Williamson.

Ilkeston FC have assured the Northern Premier League they will fulfil all of their remaining fixtures - despite their players boycotting the match at Workington last Saturday.

Several of the Robins squad refused to travel to Cumbria, meaning the match was postponed at around 10am.

That could well result in financial and even points-related punishments from the NPL in due course, but with Ilkeston having played Buxton on Tuesday night and with a match at Spennymoor United scheduled for Thursday, the Advertiser understands it is unlikely a similar protest will be repeated.

With players and staff at the New Manor Ground having not been paid since December, the issue came to a head on Saturday when only a handful of the squad turned up for the early departure to Workington.

Later that day, captain Matt Baker issued a statement through the Ilkeston FC Supporters Group explaining what had happened.

He said: “Today was the day no one wanted to happen, I feel it is important that you are aware of the situation and the reasons as you, the fans, make this club.

“Before I start, I would like to apologise to every fan about today, especially the fans that turned up early for the game.

“The players made the decision that things had to change, players have been beaten into this situation due to a lack of wages and communication.

“We were given hope weeks ago and unfortunately this hasn’t materialised yet, the players want to play but felt this situation needed to come to an end and hopefully this will help.

“I believe that the the chairman is working hard to solve the problems and will be speaking to us on Monday to resolve this situation ASAP.

“I’m sure you have many questions and hopefully these will be answered sooner rather than later. As captain of the club, I would like to say thank you and sorry to every one of you, including fans, stewards, all volunteers and especially Andrew (Raisin, club secretary)

“We all understand the hard work you put in and this is certainly not what you deserve.”

The subsequent meeting between chairman Nigel Harrop and the players took place as expected on Monday, and it is understood the players have agreed to play on for the remainder of the campaign.

Manager Shaun Goater, meanwhile, says he can understand the players’ frustration even though he would rather have seen Saturday’s game go ahead.

He said: “I was made aware of the players’ intentions on Friday so knew what was likely to happen.

“In many ways I applaud them as they’ve been making big sacrifices and haven’t been paid for three months, so you can understand them wanting to make their point.

“It’s still important they play, however, as they’re firmly in the shop window at the moment and it’s up to them to show whether they’re good enough to play elsewhere if that’s what they want.

“They were very keen to ensure the fans knew early on so they didn’t waste money or time travelling to the game. Nobody really knows what the consequences will be but we’ll have to wait and see.

“The chairman doesn’t want to be in this situation where he can’t pay staff, but whilst that’s what is happening it’s very challenging for the players.

“I make my own sacrifices in that I travel for two hours to get to home games and training and I’m not being paid, but I’m keen to learn and develop as a coach and even with the current scenario, which I knew very little about before taking the job, I relish the challenge I face.”

The Northern Premier League, meanwhile, issued a statement on Tuesday confirming they had received a written undertaking from Ilkeston FC that they would play all of their remaining fixtures.

They have charged Ilkeston under Rule 8.6 for failing to fulfill a fixture, the fifth time this season that particular punishment has been applied following the delayed start to the campaign when Ilkeston were suspended from playing.

The statement also read: “In the interests of the Evo-Stik NPL’s member clubs and the competition’s integrity, the club understands that a second failure will result in further charges being levied which could have serious consequences.”