POOLE Town are expected to discover in the next fortnight whether they would be allowed to compete in the National South play-offs – and the decision cannot come quickly enough for boss Tom Killick.
Fifth-placed Dolphins are currently seven points clear of the chasing pack with just five games of the regulation season remaining, starting with tomorrow’s visit to Chelmsford, who are third.
However, although their Black Gold Stadium last week passed an FA ground-grading inspection to remain at step two, the club could still be prevented from featuring in the play-offs.
To qualify for promotion to the National League and to participate in the South and North divisional play-offs, clubs must have 500 seats under cover, a requirement Poole are unable to meet.
Although the uncertainty appears not to have affected the players – with Poole enjoying a five-match unbeaten run – Killick says he would like to know one way or another.
Speaking following the midweek draw with Hungerford, which kept them seven points behind Poole, Killick, in answer to a question put by the BBC's Jordan Clark, said: “We have given ourselves a bit of breathing space in terms of the gap between us and Hungerford.
“We would like to get closer to Dartford and Chelmsford and beating Chelmsford would enable us to do that.
“But, at the moment, we still have the uncertainty about the meaning of any of it. We have to be told whether or not we are allowed to play in the play-offs.
“It would be terrible if we took our eye off the ball, lost our focus and intensity and ended up dropping out of the play-offs, only to find we are allowed to play. I don’t think you would ever recover from that. It is a strange scenario but we have to plough on.”
Although the National League had a board meeting eight days ago, a spokesman confirmed they were still waiting for paperwork from the Football Association.
He said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on Poole specifically as the league had yet to see the grading inspector’s report.
Once all grading inspections have been completed around the country, they are sent to the FA and assessed by a ground-grading technical panel.
They then need to be certified by an FA alliance committee before they are sent back to the relevant leagues.
The National League spokesman told the Daily Echo he expected the process to be completed “in the next couple of weeks.”
Asked whether the cloud hanging over the possible involvement had affected the players, Poole Town frontman Luke Roberts told the Daily Echo: “We won’t lose focus because of that.
“We are in a position to get into the play-offs and you ignore what is going on off the pitch. That is a job for the directors. They deal with that and your job is to perform on the pitch. Just because there are doubts, it shouldn’t mean your performance levels should drop.”