Is money on it’s way to ruining grassroots football?

Salford City

The Salford City story. Divided opinions across not just non-league football, but also into the Football League. For those who’ve slept and missed what’s been happening in the North West of England, here’s a quick re-cap.

Members of ‘The Class of ’92’, namely the Neville brothers, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt bought a share in the club in 2014, swiftly followed by Singapore based Peter Lim buying 50% of the club later that year.

With the aim of being in Football League action in very quick time, the owners appointed Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley to achieve those aims. The pair arrived with a good non-league pedigree and propelled the Ammies through the leagues to Vanarama National League promotion last season but mutually agreed to part ways with the club almost before the celebrations had died down.

As we know the game is awash with money at the very top and getting richer by the day. It’s becoming more evident season by season that to compete against that and to reach that level you need a rich investor as club made money doesn’t even touch the surfaces these days.  But down at non-league level, it should be a relatively even playing field shouldn’t it?

Salford this week managed to persuade striker Adam Rooney to drop from Scottish Premiership side Aberdeen, who will compete in Europe in the coming weeks, into the National League on what’s being reported as a £4000 a week wage. That if true has heightened the hype surrounding the club and making it look as if they’re in a class of their own when it comes to getting the players they want.

Now I say it divides because some will feel good luck to them, they have the money and so far moving up the leagues have spent and recruited wisely to get where they are. If the season doesn’t go where they want it to, they know they have the means to get it back on track. One thing upon the side of the owners is their attachment to the Salford area itself, less likely to walk away from things.

The other side of the coin is those who would say, what happens when the fun ends and if the owners walk away? Is the current model sustainable without the money? I would think not in any guise for any club, you can say the same for Chelsea or Manchester City, different end of the scale I know and in Chelsea’s case there isn’t the same level of spending as there was in Roman Abramovich’s early days as they look to make the club self-sufficient, but wage levels would cripple most clubs with the benefactor.

We’ve seen plenty in non-league chase the Football League dream and crash and burn. The victims are always the supporters of a club who in most cases have been around since before the 1900’s. And to begin again right at the very bottom of the pyramid is soul destroying having seen over 100 years of history reduced to ashes.

Salford are there to be shot at this year regardless of who else they bring into their playing staff on big wages, the high profile of their owners will always ensure they’ll fill column inches this season, only 2 more weeks now until the rollercoaster ride begins, strap yourself in and get ready to be thrilled, welcome to the new season!


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