21st August. The date Nigel Huddleston of the DCMS Department received a letter from 41 MP’s asking when National League clubs will be allowed to admit fans in once again.
I know there is some healthy debate to this scenario with this ‘elite’ tag and some arguing that with the National League going ahead with their play-offs that they should be treated the same as the EFL clubs, but is that going to sustain these clubs going forward?
As we’ve now seen on Monday evening via the brilliant Ollie Bayliss the DCMS have said no different from fans returning to stadiums from the 1st October and applications made I presume by the FA and National League have been submitted for test pilot events. I would hope these test events are scheduled as soon as they can be in order for clubs to get themselves ready to go.
I believe that despite clubs managing to survive through the lean months with no income and this includes the lower two EFL divisions that worse is yet to come, some of that might and I stress might be avoided if capacities are used to determine the amount of fans allowed per ground rather than a ‘one size fits all’ as they for Steps 3-6, I hope I am completely wrong, but some of that money has been used to cover some of the summer months from advances, careful budgeting is going to have to be the norm.
But there is some good news which was announced in the middle of last week, the creation of the Matchday Support Fund of which financial help comes from the Premier League. If you’ve missed it, it stretches from Step 1 down to Step 6 with a maximum of £20,000 available to top clubs and £2,000 to the lowest level. When at a game this past weekend we were remarking about the game being awash with too much cash in the top-flight and none of it making its way down to help those who need just a little bit to get by.
It’s great news to read of it and it’s been welcomed by clubs in Sunday’s Non-League Paper, but it must be ensured this is available every year for all clubs regardless of what happens in the future. The full amount if every club applies for the grant is pocket change to the 20 top clubs and they can afford to do this, maybe even raise the bar and up the totals year on year, that remains to be seen.
There are stipulations as to what it can be spent on, how that is policed I have no idea unless they ask for some kind of photographic evidence? The link for any club officials reading this is www.footballfoundation.org.uk and is open until Wednesday 16th September for applications.
There are clubs who are already on the ball and it’s definitely going a small way to help out with those costs involved with making grounds Covid-19 compliant. If it is available every year then it is set apart from clubs needing to match grants for any projects they want to undertake, it must however always be ring-fenced to stop it being used just to pay someone an extra £50 a week and as time goes on I expect the system to be more robust to stop that happening.
Money makes the world go round, money makes football go round, but the hope is we’re seeing smiles and laughs at grounds before long while money is making the tills ring, the former is important to make the latter work…………