FANS' ZONE 20/01/2021
TORBAY MP KEVIN FOSTER URGES GOVERNMENT TO RECONSIDER SEASON FUNDING METHOD FOR NATIONAL LEAGUE CLUBS
The Government department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s decision to offer loans rather than funds led, over the weekend, to National League clubs issuing a plea for every club’s local MP to lobby the DCMS to help save the season.
To this end TUST, on behalf of the club and the Yellow Army, has written to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for DCMS and copied in the area’s three MPs - Kevin Foster, Anne Marie-Morris and Anthony Mangnall.
Over the weekend Kevin Foster has been in contact with myself as TUST Supporter Liaison Officer and Chairman Michel Thomas. Together, along with input from the club, Kevin Foster has now written to Dowden attaching a copy of TUST’s letter.
We are not the only club contacting the DCMS to review their method of financial support as in the last few days, as the Non-League Paper reports, clubs including Chesterfield, Dagenham & Redbrdge, Hartlepool and Woking have involved their MPs.
The funding row has escalated over the last few days following the suspension, for two weeks, of National North and South. No sooner had this decision been made then the NL board amazingly withdrew option two of the three on the table, the one about the league taking on the loan and then redistributing it as grants.
As a result of this there’s been a flurry of accusations and counter claims: the DCMS issued a statement saying, “It’s untrue to suggest funding to the National League was ever promised as all grants and they (NL) have been unable to substantiate this claim.”
So if grants weren’t promised why do all the NL clubs believe they were? Have the NL board misled its clubs?
To this end, Ollie Bayliss who presents the Non-League Show on BBC Three Counties Radio has submitted a Freedom Of Information request asking for all agendas, minutes and summaries from all meetings between representatives of the DCMS, the FA and the National League between August 1 2020 and January 24 2021 including correspondence and internal communications. Once received these should shed some light on the proceedings.
A majority of National Premier clubs were in favour of the NL taking the loan and redistributing it as grants in order to allow the season to continue until Friday’s late u-turn A crunch meeting was due to be held on Monday between the DCMS and the National League.
There has been a lot of anger following the funding news, no more so than amongst many managers and Hartlepool’s Dave Challinor didn’t hide his feelings, “ The NL have taken a lot of criticism for how they run things .. they’ve made themselves look even more unprofessional with the way things are being run." He went on, “There’s been no decisiveness in their actions. But the hope we had in our league from the majority of teams to continue having voted for option 2, that hope has been dashed.”
There were further developments today (Thursday) when Secretary of State for Sport, Nigel Huddleston, wrote to all National League clubs basically saying the money available through Sport England, the so called Winter Survival Package, is public money but doesn’t rule out grants as opposed to loans if - and a big ‘if’ - clubs ‘open their books’. The DCMS acknowledges the urgency and so has set up a meeting for tomorrow (Friday) morning for all National League clubs. Those who cannot attend have a second chance next Tuesday - so the funding can’t be that urgent. But the letter does say the support is provided to ‘ensure clubs survive’.
If all this threat to the possibility of the season ending prematurely wasn’t enough, there’s more unrest in football. The pandemic has, for everybody, been unsettling and disrupting but it was clear long before Covid came along, that football itself needed a shake up.
Many advocate any changes should be solely for the Premier League. Remember ‘Project Big Picture’ back in October? That was quickly shelved after an outcry but has it gone away? Now comes along a proposed European Super League.
This, too, is being resisted but at some point something will give but whatever it is must be for the good of the whole of the football pyramid. On Saturday Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola called for a reduction of teams not only in the Premier League but also in the EFL. He doesn’t specify how this is achievable but says, “ Go to quality over quantity.”
On the other side of the coin, with the current situation in the National League would it not be sensible to introduce a League 3 as the NL’s full-time sides, by and large, have business models which, when fans are allowed back, would keep them competitive. The current NL Premier has eleven former members of the football league.
The NL wanted to be ‘elite’ so why not let them into the EFL? The majority of clubs in National North & South are your typical, part-time non-league clubs. It might well be wishful thinking at the moment but a debate on this can’t be far away.
The last week has seen a 4-0 win at Boreham Wood in the FA Trophy, a hard earned point on the road at Notts County followed by a second 0-0 against challengers Sutton United on Tuesday evening keeping United nine points clear at the top. A trip to The Hive on Saturday against rock bottom Barnet beckons, lets hope the bees don’t come to sting us!
Last week’s vote saw Coldplay’s ‘Yellow’ gain a few more votes than The Fireballs ‘Torquay’ but neither can dislodge ‘Children’ or ‘A Banda’ - some traditions can never die!
Should the season continue no matter what? Your thoughts to: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter:@FanszoneT.
In these challenging times, ‘Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
To all the Yellow Army stay safe - and get your vaccination.