FANS' ZONE 29/10/2020
THE TRICK IS TO GET INJURED PLAYERS BACK A LITTLE AT A TIME, THE TREAT IS A HOME FA CUP TIE AS UNITED WRIGHTMOVE TO THE TOP
“ We’ve got a squad now that’s growing and competing for a place, and that’s what we need,” said United manager Gary Johnson after the Gulls’ FA Cup 2-0 victory over Sholing on Saturday.
With experienced players like Asa Hall and Gary Warren returning from injury getting 90 minutes the boss must have been delighted, with the icing on the cake being the return of Armani Little after eight months out. His summer recruitment, topping up the already established players, has given Johnson a formidable squad providing, as all top managers want, a selection headache before each match.
It was interesting to learn from his comments on last week’s Yellow Army podcast that there’s a list of three players compiled every time a goal’s scored - scorer, assist player and contributor. That must be good for team morale acting as an incentive as he’s a great advocate of game management.
So it’s Crawley at home in Round 1, originally it was £22,629 for the winners but the FA have changed the prize money so that the losing teams, which previously got no money will now get 25% of the total to lessen the financial impact of ties being played without fans. The losing side will get £5,657 leaving the winners with £16,972. Last time the teams met in the Cup United, a League club, lost 1-0 to Crawley, then non-league and we all know who Crawley drew in Round 5. This time we’ll know about their haircuts, shoe sizes and relatives!
Following Tuesday night’s thrashing of Aldershot the Gulls find a new home as leaders of the National League after four Wonder goals from Winter, Whitfield and Wright (2) - wow, all power to the W-formation!
If we didn’t already know or appreciate the ability of Gary Johnson, it hit home on Tuesday evening with his half-time ‘ear wigging’ as he demonstrated his managerial experience through making just one personnel change which transformed the Gulls.
United now travel to Hartlepool for Saturday evening’s BT Sport TV match which promises to be a real test for both sides.
The National League’s Government/National Lottery grant allocation has come under close scrutiny for whilst the top seven ex-Football League clubs, including United, were awarded £95,000 per month for the next three months - a figure based on average attendances - many clubs in National North & South are not happy.
Chester FC in particular have asked the NL board for clarification as to how the support package was put together. They’ll receive £36,000 per month for being one of the five top attended clubs in the North & South with their average being 1,835 but compare that with National club Boreham Wood’s 724 who are receiving £84,000.
Chester, meanwhile, are doubly annoyed as their plans to hold a six day drive-in Hallowe’en cinema event this week had to be called off due to coronavirus rules as whilst the screen in their Deva Stadium car park is in England, the toilets are across the border in Wales!
Last week this column raised the issue of clubs being able to call off matches with as few as one positive Covid-19 test on a player as Barnet did. Notts County played - and lost - their league match against Maidenhead despite having four players test positive but this weekend cancelled their FA Cup fixture against King’s Lynn, when six players tested positive.
County manager Neal Ardley said, “ I look to the authorities to see what should be done about this. With the lack of testing, ignorance isn’t bliss.” Ardley reckons that every team will have three or four players on the pitch carrying Covid-19. He argues that all clubs should be testing players twice a month but at present this is not mandatory. Maybe this is down to costs but it is an issue which is going to possibly determine whether this season will actually be completed.
Currently there is no player testing protocol in either the EFL or National Leagues.
Momentum is building to get fans back into grounds after a survey of spectators who attended pilot events drew overwhelmingly positive feedback. This column has brought to your attention the #LetFansIn campaign with the petition to trigger a debate in Parliament reaching almost 200,000 signatures; this is now scheduled for November 9 and in preparation for this Parliament’s Petition Committee has released a follow-up survey which is short and easy to fill in at: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/CYLH7W/ to be completed by 9am Monday November 2. All football fans are asked to take part You can watch the debate on November 9 at: https://www.youtube.com/UKParliament
Then last Thursday in Parliament MP Ian Mearns asked the Government for a debate “ about the future of our national game.”
In recent weeks TUST, not only on behalf of its members but also for all football fans, has communicated with our three local MPs on football matters, such as supporters being allowed back into stadiums at the earliest opportunity as well as to the Department for Digital Culture Media & Sport receiving positive responses from all four.
Then last week TUST hosted the meeting of the Devon Supporters Trust Group which involves the supporters trusts of Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle at which views and ideas are exchanged.
Seems opinion is divided on a Title Tip for the NL league between either Stockport, Hartlepool or the Gulls. Let’s wait to find out!
So would you return to Plainmoor should fans be allowed back into stadiums? Send your yes or no answer to:firstname.lastname@example.org
To the Yellow Army stay safe.
SUPPORT TUST - ATTEND THE BBC VIRTUAL AGM ON 25th NOVEMBER AT 6:30pm