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FANS' ZONE 15/10/2020


GARY  JOHNSON’S  BIG  PICTURE  IS  A  PROMOTION  PUSH  BACK TO THE FOOTBALL  LEAGUE  -  WITH  AN  FA  CUP  RUN?


If you are an ardent Gulls’ fan, with the Yellow Army running through you, you wouldn’t want to be leaving your living room live streaming the match before the end - if you were in a ground and did so, the opposition fans would be singing “ Cheerio, cheerio” and waving you goodbye as you headed for the exits - as the winner, and only goal, at Plainmoor on the opening day, came in the 91st minute but last Saturday’s late penalty drama came in the 93rd minute as Danny Wright coolly sent the Bromley keeper the wrong way.


 Then on Tuesday evening Wynter’s touch - yes, the club have accredited Ben as the scorer - to claim the winner, came in the 94th minute; talk about leaving it late!


But for a little better finishing the late Eastleigh winner in the 83rd minute wouldn’t have mattered; fine margins and United could, after four games, have been unbeaten.  Eastleigh seem to be a bogey side as the last time the Gulls won against them was in 2015 with nine defeats, and a draw, from the last ten played between the teams.


Despite a number of the squad having to play out of position, it’s clear to see that the Gary Johnson magic and philosophy of how to play football is rubbing off onto the players. The bonus now is that a number of the injured ones are beginning to return.


It was good to see that on the opening day, the National League Team of the Day featured Lucas Covolan and Aaron Nemane while last Saturday Kyle Cameron was picked.


If evidence was needed that no matches in this league are easy it was there on Monday eveningas Maidenhead - no points from three games and minus 8 goal difference - travelled to the Racecourse ground to beat fancied Wrexham.


Next up at Plainmoor are Dover, thrashed 5-0 at home by Aldershot on Tuesday evening and come with a goal difference of minus 10, having already shipped twelve goals.


After that it’s an FA Cup trip to Hampshire to play Sholing, currently 8th in the Southern League Division One South - the same division as Willand Rovers, Bideford and Barnstaple.


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Whilst in certain areas of the country coronavirus cases are increasing, the #LetFansIn campaign petition has continued to gather pace and now has around 200,000 signatures. This column makes no excuses for this being a recurring weekly theme because football clubs need their supporters to be allowed back before more clubs follow Bury and Macclesfield.


TUST continues to support the FSA’s Sustain the Game initiative while the #LetFansIn has the backing of the Premier League, the FA and EFL. An open letter sent to the Government asks for the return of the test event programme adding, “ We will continue to urge the relevant authorities to let us use innovative ways to bring fans safely back into football grounds.”


Disappointingly the National League board has yet to announce how the Government’s £10m grant is to be distributed to the 67 members, many of whom are desperate to learn how much of the pot they’ll be allocated. As every week goes by clubs with no fans and no income are in danger of folding.


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Now, as if the current situation isn’t bad enough along comes another bombshell in the form of Project Big Picture with the top six big boys wanting to orchestrate a football revolution that is likely to split the game into the haves and the have-nots.


Should this plan gain sufficient support the Premier League will end up with 18 teams - down from 20 - but the three EFL leagues will keep their current numbers totalling 72. So the current football pyramid will ‘lose’ two teams down from 92 to 90.


How would this affect promotion and relegation between League 2 and the National League?


There’s no question that Covid-19 has hastened the need for football to have a total re-think with reduction in squad sizes and introducing salary caps as a start to address some of the issues but surely Project Big Picture is a step too far but bound to split opinion. Especially as it comes hot on the heels of another suggestion that Premier League B teams should be part of the EFL structure.


Following a Premier League meeting on Wednesday the Big Picture has been kicked into touch but other plans are now being discussed.


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Something positive has, though, come out during these difficult times and that’s the introduction and availability of live streaming. With the Yellow Army spread far and wide, it’s now possible to watch United’s games from anywhere in the world and when life returns to normal with fans allowed inside stadiums, keeping the live streaming would be fantastic and a money spinner for the home clubs.


There have been, not unexpectedly, teething problems such as recent games at Dover, Bromley and Aldershot. The Shots expect to have a new version in time for their next home game …against the Gulls.


Bromley’s coverage on Saturday, a three hour show with pre-match interviews, in-game graphics, first-half highlights at half-time and multi-camera angles with replays has set the bar high for other National League clubs to follow.


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Stockport County were the title favourites with the bookmakers, various pundits have Notts County and Wrexham as theirs while this column has gone for Gary Johnson’s Gulls.


So who is your title tip? Go on stick your neck out and then send your choice to: fanszone.tu@gmail.com


To all the Yellow Army stay safe - and keep streaming.


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