So, here we are, we’re on our way to competitive non-league football once again and I for one cannot wait! With the government now agreeing for clubs and organisations to prepare for a return, it must now be full steam ahead. As regular readers will know I’ve stood by a September start date for months and I still stand by this, we will be back on the terraces watching our teams in action and getting that pint down our necks. For me, this actually comes this weekend with a trip to The Hive to watch Barnet in the Legends Bar, but thats for another blog, not quite watching the action on the pitch but it’s a start!
Back to the matter in hand and now the green light has been given there will be much work to do in order to meet that start I’m expecting in around 8 weeks time. A lot of clubs local to me in Sussex I know have been doing bits for weeks, whether it be helping their players tick over or getting back out on the grass once the ban was lifted on small groups training. Thats probably the easy part of this getting back to some kind of ‘normal’, the work now starts for the club admin with no doubt countless forms and meetings to work out how they become Covid-19 safe for themselves, officials, players and supporters, everything has to be covered and you know it will be.
Leagues and associations find themselves with more to do, how to fit in a season minus one month and which cup competitions do we drop in order to make things fit bearing in mind there’s always going to be postponements, not to forget as well both FA competitions will be behind before they’ve even kicked off.
We are all aware non-league football can not re-start behind closed doors nor can it wait to resume, clubs simply do not have the resources to survive, in all honesty I am surprised there haven’t been clubs further up the chain dipping under the line, maybe those advance payments have just about worked for them, but the danger might still lurk over the coming months with the money already gone.
Non-league we know can cope with lots of these measures compared to our wealthy neighbours especially when it comes to spectators. We know we won’t see a 50,000 maximum capacity at the top level for a little while longer, but they will be back with restrictions in a new season. At grassroots level we know we can social distance in a majority of grounds without any trouble, clubhouses and bars might be a slightly more challenging situation but non-league clubs are innovative, they will adapt and those that do and embrace it will prosper.
There is a new generation of fans to entice, those who’ve enjoyed the re-start of top level football but fed up with VAR issues still plaguing the game can find themselves a spot on the terraces at their local club, buy a programme, a burger, a golden goal ticket, a pint and still have change from a twenty, can you get that higher up? Of course you can’t! I am hoping clubs can go social media mad once they know the exact start date and try to claw back some of that lost revenue, I have plans to get around to grounds I just couldn’t last season although with some familiar haunts, and of course managers to catch up with who have been so good to me during the lockdown period.
We know this virus will not completely disappear, and this is the start of football learning to live with it. By the time we reach September there is every chance its going to be at a very minimal level and some of the restrictions being put in place now might find themselves being lifted very quickly. Things around coronavirus change weekly, daily, no one pretty much can tell you what the picture looks like in eight weeks time, but it’s going to be a much prettier picture with football back in it………………