Almost a week ago I blogged having come across the beginnings of this campaign to get fans back into non-league football and in that time it’s been fantastic to see the response of people reading that particular blog and others such as Aaron Moore coming out with further brilliant articles and clubs really pushing the point that we need people back inside grounds before it’s too late.
I make no apologies for sharing the hell of out the slogan and replies all over my Twitter and Facebook feeds all day every day, it needs to be heard and it has to change before we see clubs starting to resign and withdraw from the new season because they can’t afford to go on. More and more clubs have come on board over the past six or so days and of the course the excellent Non-League Paper featured a double page spread with views across the game (for just £1.50 this is a fantastic read every Sunday).
It was interesting to read the views across the section they spoke to, and some of it is just staggering! For example, Mark Harris the chairman of the NPL (Northern Premier League) quoted as saying the issue goes beyond the DCMS and higher up into the government with a lack of communication, that is beyond belief that government departments can’t talk to each other, unbelievable given the current circumstances we’re all living in. It really does in my opinion show the lack of respect from above for the game below National League level.
If the FA have done everything that can, some doubt to that knowing the feeling of how they treat their member clubs, then the DCMS should be banging on every door between here and Boris Johnson to get themselves heard. Their spokesman though as quoted in the NLP, ‘The Premier League has voted to advance funds of £125m to the EFL and National League to help clubs throughout the football pyramid.’
Utter rubbish! The pyramid does not stop at Step 2, how out of touch can you really be? I think that really answers why we are having to battle to get 50-100 people into a venue that in a lot of cases can hold 1000+. Take for instance the government on Friday relaxing rules again and allowing the pilot sporting events to take place, 300 people heading into a 900 person venue inside to watch snooker and not having to even wear a mask.
We all know the risk outside is lower compared to inside but why do they think thats a good idea when we’re asking a third of that level to be allowed to watch games in higher capacity places and in the open air, it beggars belief!
Where do they think the money comes from to put on a football match in non-league? Off the money tree? Every club so far in pre-season can not have made any profit from games so far, yet still expected to shell out for things like the officials and food after the game, not to mention seasonal affiliations and buying new equipment and yet they would like this to continue, its not feasible!
As the Hartley Witney manager was quoted in the NLP, they are at tipping point and I suspect many up and down the country nodded in agreement in that respect, we’ve seen already some go bust, a rescue package has saved FC Romania but I fear that beyond the end of August unless fans are allowed back inside Step 3-7 grounds we will see clubs closing doors and not re-opening because they can’t afford to and that would have a far wider reach in terms of the mental health and well-being among people and it’s community, there is a bigger consequence than just a few football clubs disappearing.
I’m not surprised to see a legal challenge being mounted. clubs can not go on in this way and still be here in September, let alone October. I believe now it needs the intervention of the Premier League clubs to get involved and say ‘we’re ok to wait but these guys aren’t, they need the fans back in’, living in cloud cuckoo land that may be but for the good of the whole game it must happen before this pyramid collapses into itself, for me it’s looking like just a matter of time, something’s got to give…………