THE National League has thrown a curveball in the direction of the Government this afternoon.

League officials have sanctioned a petition and PR campaign in a bid to change the Government's Winter Survival Package for its 66 member clubs to grants.

National League clubs Sutton United, Dagenham and Redbridge, plus Yeovil Town, have already pledged their support to the initiative, which could see teams delay a planned vote on the outcome of the season.

Concord Rangers, Ebbsfleet United plus Leamington, of the National League South and North have also pledged their support.

In the petition, the National League said it would "not survive without help and rallied for a "sustainable lifeline" without plunging clubs into debt and "future ruin".

It read: "National League clubs are facing catastrophe and a perilous situation in the next few days.  

"We need a sustainable lifeline that does not leave clubs facing future ruin.    

"After changing the terms of its support in the middle of the season, the government must reverse its decision to offer loans and now fulfil its promise of a new grant. 

"Our clubs play an immeasurable role in communities all over the UK and provide immense structures of support for many. 

"Current government loan offers have moved the financial goalposts mid-season and jeopardised the future of our clubs.     

"Without adequate and fair funding, the National League will not survive, with consequences felt by thousands of players, supporters and club staff across the UK for many years to come."

In an open letter to fans, Yeovil chairman Scott Priestnall - who also sits on the National League board - said 82 per cent of clubs are against loans.

He said: "Throughout the entire process the offer of government support was framed as a Covid response grant and in no written or verbal communication were the terms of the extended period amended to become loans, loans simply don’t work and as part of discussions with National League clubs, 82 per cent voted against taking on loans."

He added: "Should the league vote to close the current season, the players and club staff would be placed on the government furlough scheme.

"It has been calculated for National League clubs for the three months January to March 2021 would be a £14m cost to the public purse: £3m MORE than an appropriate grant.

"Plus clubs would still need to access Sport England loans to cover operating costs for the remainder of the season."

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) made clear last week that financial support for clubs in Steps 1 and 2 would be in loans.

This stance caused uproar with the National League, who maintain the 2020/21 season would not have started had that position been made clear.

It comes after member clubs received £10m in grants to help them through October to December amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week, £10m in grants was made available to non-League clubs in Steps 3 to 6 and will be distributed via the Football Stadia Improvement Fund.

Restrictions on spectators have badly hit elite clubs who rely on matchday revenue generated by ticket, food, drink and merchandise sales plus more.