The Race For The National League Is Wide Open

As we enter the month of November, it is fair to say that we have a real title race on our hands in the National League. At the time of writing, just three points separate the top half dozen teams and it will take a brave man to predict who will come out on top come next May.

And if that the man were to take a look at the current football betting odds on offer, then he will see that Bet365 have pegged high flying Salford City at odds of 11/8 as the outfit to be crowned champions at the end of the season.

With the amount of money that Salford have at their disposal, they are the scalp that everyone wants to claim throughout this campaign, in a bid to halt their march out of the lower reaches of the football pyramid and into the promised land of the Football League.

Any time a big-spending club tops the fifth tier of the English game it is always viewed with an element of distrust, as if buying your way out of the division is not the honourable way to do so. This is a criticism that has been previously thrown in the direction of teams such as Rushden & Diamonds or Crawley Town.

Unfortunately, more often than not, it is just the way the game is going, with money being the driving factor behind success. However, at the same time, one cannot rule out the likes of Harrogate Town in regard to winning this season’s National League.

They, like Salford will be looking to enter the realm of league football for the first time and, if they are successful, then it will have to be viewed as a fantastic achievement, especially when you consider the difference in financial standing between themselves and the current table toppers Salford.

At this level, there is no doubting it is a competitive division, one that is almost an uphill struggle if you are a club that still operates under a part-time status. This is something that Harrogate identified at the start of last season as they then made the switch to a full-time operation.

And the benefits that have come from this have clearly been evident. They’re not simply making up the numbers in the National League and going up against opposition that have been able to train on a near daily basis – they now find themselves at the sharper end of the table.

The question now for the club is just how far they can go. With no standout team at present, they, along with the five other teams in this early championship hunt, will feel that they can be the ones who earn the solitary automatic promotion spot which comes with winning the league.

At the same time, the fact that the end of season play-offs now encompass any club who finishes between second and seventh in the table means that all is not lost if Harrogate don’t manage to win the National League. It just means they may have to deal with some additional drama to fulfil their promotion dreams.

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