Scrolling through Twitter on Monday morning as I normally would be, checking the latest going’s-on from all four corners of the footballing world and one tweet in particular caught my eye and that was before I saw the above slogan.
Dorking Wanderers, a club I hold in high regard for the way Marc White has built his club into the National League South, popped a tweet up last night around 7.19 which I caught this morning on the back of another tweet from the superb Ollie Bayliss. I’ll link the tweet in below, in short it’s asking why the FA have been unable to explain to the Government’s DCMS how different life is in non-league football compared to those in the professional game and with it the slogan #letfansin .
The tweet from Ollie Bayliss eluded to the fact non-league clubs have been without income for five months and I must give credit to those who’ve kept these clubs going with nothing coming in. I’ve been there in a Step 5 club and I know how hard it is when money is just about in the till or the bank, these guys and girls have done fantastically to limit how many clubs have had to take a breather or fold completely and a huge majority on a volunteer basis.
Throughout Monday I’ve seen more and more clubs coming on board with this and as I write #LetFansIn is trending on Twitter just outside the top 20, it’s been as high as fourth and huge credit has to go to @forthefansshop on Twitter for getting this started and the momentum it has already generated is huge, but it must get bigger over the next few days and get opinion and decisions changed.
As non-league fans, players and club officials, even league officers, we know that to have us in a ground is perfectly possible, socially distanced and without drama. Why is it we can shop wherever we want with little or no restrictions compared to three months ago but we can’t attend a non-league football match? Why is it we can have thousands of people at the beach but not 100-200 people socially distanced at a football match? It’s not consistent and it needs to move in line.
Twenty-two players plus substitutes and coaching staff can play a pre-season friendly with no covid-19 tests for them, so where is the difference not having supporters there? We can sit inside a theatre without a mask on our faces amongst fellow people, but we can’t watch a game outside where transmission is less or virtually non-existent.
To me none of this makes sense whichever way you look at it, clubs have been carrying out work to make sure grounds are covid-secure, the best time to test it is now in pre-season, not waiting until it begins and then we have problems, too short-sighted and that is where the FA have fallen down.
Their lack of input into putting a case across that shouts ‘we are ready’ is harming the game at grassroots level and putting the futures of a lot of the members they are supposed to be looking after in grave doubt. I must admit I was expecting non-league to really suffer to survive through a tough few months, maybe that’s still to come, I hope it isn’t and everyone makes it out the other side, but without income coming into each and every one of these clubs there is a big fear more clubs will simply disappear.
Every club needs their clubhouse open not just during the week but when a game is on, every club needs fans coming through the turnstiles spending their money just to survive, this isn’t the Premier League where money is given for finishing 17th in the division, this is real life. These clubs are the heart of their communities, where the FA Cup still matters and the Vase gives hope you can reach Wembley, the stuff dreams are made of.
I would love to see every single club and every MP to get behind this campaign before the loss of clubs like Droylsden are being seen every week, put some pressure on the FA and the government to deliver, after all we’ve listened to and obeyed the rules in most cases for the good of the country during the lockdown, now it’s time to give a little bit back and in a lot of cases improve the mental health of so many people struggling to come to terms with such a change of life, its time to make a stand……………