As followers of this blog will know, being involved in a non-league club can be as much a struggle as it can be rewarding and it doesn’t help when you feel the governing body appears to against the very clubs it should be protecting and helping.
Earlier this week the FA in my opinion looked to have scored a massive own goal. In case you missed it, the FA have declared that any Step 3 or 4 club not having changing rooms that measure 18 square metres by the end of July 2019 will be relegated without question. Step 3 and 4 relates to those clubs currently at Bostik League level for our area, so would affect the likes of Worthing or Bognor Regis closest to me.
Anyone whose played the game knows the away changing room is designed to be uncomfortable and cramped, why would you create a room of luxury for your opponents? It’s widely known the old Barnet changing rooms at Underhill were very much that and without doubt many clubs have the same down the pyramid so why the change? Is it really that important?
When you consider what the FA could really be doing for the grassroots of the game this does feel like a slap in the face when there is a desperate need for example, more green space for youth teams to produce the players of the future or providing more coaches for clubs, something the UK is miles behind on compared to the rest of Europe.
Now what they’re asking is not something that can easily be changed or increased in size. I mean, there is a short window of around 3 months at the season end before it all starts again for work to be completed, most clubs are not going to be able to afford to use portacabins whilst the work is being undertaken, so when exactly is this work going to take place? Would groundsharing have to be seen as a necessity to make it happen?
The FA will argue they gave notice in 2014 and 4 years is a reasonable time frame to complete any work that needed doing. Clubs will rightly argue the other way when do these volunteers have time to raise the cash to add to any funding they can gain? The hours put in at all levels for a pure love of the game is being disregarded by the FA if they think there is more time to to be able to get money in to finance these projects.
I know from personal experience to get these grants is time consuming in itself, they don’t make it easy to be honest and I imagine many give up before they’ve completed the end of the form. And if you do get as far as the end, then comes the challenge of getting the work done, especially a project like a changing room build or re-modelling.
And what of those who are restricted by the boundaries of where they are? Just knock something down and build new rooms? The FA are in danger of killing the game instead of helping it grow, we have a unique system compared to Europe but we don’t seem able to encourage it and you can see this as a good reason why people aren’t always keen to get involved, too much red tape and not enough help coming from above. You have to wonder what level the FA are on in thinking that what is required can be achieved before the end of the season.
League constitutions are decided by mid June, does that mean just two weeks before the season begins in August it’s all going to ripped up and massive changes made up and down the country? Hopefully we’re not witnessing the beginning of the end of what is great about the game in this country, but the FA have to re-think what they’re asking of the volunteer army before some turn their back on the game and clubs disappear for good, the beautiful game could be turning ugly…………