NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUBS MUST BE GIVEN A CHANCE TO SURVIVE
A decade ago, Oxford United were in the same division as Droylsden FC. But now, through no fault of their own, the Manchester-based team are on the brink of going out of business. To the point where they have announced they are withdrawing from the Northern Premier League and will take no part in any cup competitions during the 20/21 season. The impact of Covid-19 is being blamed for this action.
It is the latest in a line of woes for non-league clubs, battling to stay afloat with, seemingly, little help from the football authorities.
Their new season is nearly upon them, players are returning to training and pre-season friendlies are already taking place behind closed doors. But the facts are simple, if they cannot start the season with a smattering of spectators at their games, many more will go out of business.
They are not asking for much. The majority of attendances are only around 10-15% of a ground’s capacity, meaning it is simple to enforce social distancing and avoid contact with people. It maybe that only 50 people watch their games, but those people will hand over some much-needed money to help offset the cost of running a non-league football club.
Authorities can introduce as many tight restrictions as they like, but there is no reason why people cannot spend their Saturday afternoons watching their local team and doing their bit to help them survive.
Clubs pay – generally – nominal amounts to their players for expenses, on top of their day-to-day running costs. But right now not a penny is going into the club. Companies do not want to sponsor teams if their branding and advertising will not be seen by anyone, and the few players who are used to receiving a small income for their efforts will now be willing to play for nothing. Their bars are shut along with the hut selling bacon butties, replica kits are not being bought, programmes are not being sold – nothing.
Every time a criticism is made of a sporting body or indeed the Government for either their lack of urgency, lack of understanding or seemingly lack of willingness to help, at the heart of it is an understanding of the nightmare situation we are all still in.
But there is also a realisation that unless small steps are taken, the football pyramid will be a very different place when all this is over – with many more clubs like Droylsden battling for their very survival when it is not their fault.
A Twitter hashtag #letfansin have been trending and gathering momentum. There is an understanding and acceptance that even if any crowds are restricted to a maximum of 20% capacity – even 10% – it would give clubs hope of getting through this pandemic.
The people in attendance would be controlled and far more socially distanced than if they went to a pub or the beach. So open the gates, let people back into grounds to watch safely and give clubs a chance to exist.
If you are at a club that is planning to return to pre-season and want the best deals on footballs, then you might be interested in our great value training and match football packs. If not, no problem but, we wish you all the best for the coming season.