HERALD EXPRESS - FANS' ZONE 13/06/2020
PREMIER LEAGUE MUST GIVE FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO GRASS-ROOTS FOOTBALL
Damian Collins MP, the former Chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has produced a report, ‘A Way Forward for Football’, outlining the financial severity English football clubs are suffering at this time, fearing that 5 or 10 clubs could go bust.
Then last week the Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, explained that one of the Government’s conditions for the Premiership’s Project Restart to go ahead is putting pressure on it to share the financial benefits of playing again through the “entire football family.”
Dowden explained that this distribution of income is a specific challenge he has set elite football, money which is desperately needed at every level of the men’s and women’s game. Last Friday in Parliament Collins was unsure whether the Government is serious and his doubts seem justified as the Premier League CEO Richard Masters has said, “ Until we have been able to get back playing, until we have a clear plan to start season 2020-21 we are dealing with our own situation.”
Will any funds flow to those clubs in need?
So is there anything fans can do? Well, yes, we can sign a petition which seeks to impose a 5% levy on the Premier League’s broadcasting rights back into grassroots football by going to:childrensfootballalliance.com Save Grass-Roots Football
Masters has also been talking up the possibility of a limited number of spectators being allowed from September for the 2020-21 season. The Premier League CEO believes fans will return to stadiums next season on a phased basis. Taking into account social distancing of 2 metres stadiums would have reduced capacity, for example the FA Cup Final on August 1 at Wembley could have 20,000 - 10,000 fans for each club. And were National League football to return what would Plainmoor be allowed - around 1500?
But who would be eligible? Season ticket holders only? And would this figure be financially sustainable? Has the club the infrastructure to organise all this?
What is certain is that the National League has confirmed the original start date of August 8 will “inevitably need to be reviewed and updated.” National League CEO, Mike Tattersall, in a letter sent to all NL clubs last week said, “ In establishing a new commencement date, the board will be guided by the FA, the season dates decided for the EFL, the views of member clubs.”
He went on, “As it stands, it is assumed that it is not practical and sustainable to commence the new season if matches are to be played behind closed doors.”
AFC Fylde’s Chairman goes even further saying the new season shouldn’t start until January 2021 as playing behind closed doors is a non starter because of, “ Zero income, zero sponsorship, zero season tickets, zero hospitality.”
All Yellow Army fans must be encouraged to see further pitch improvements taking place for the second close season running, as Head Groundsman Julian Gouldthorpe and his team are working hard on preparing another great pitch for Gary Johnson’s attacking philosophy, as the manager says, “ Your pitch indicates how you want to play as you want to make your home a fortress.”
Last season the pitch looked terrific and played really well with no postponements for the first time in recent memory. The owner’s financial commitment to this project is much appreciated.
With the club selling a ‘ghost’ match day programme for the Notts County match never played I wonder what future there is for them.
Programmes first appeared when the Football League was founded in 1888 originally as a single sheet scorecard with Aston Villa’s being one of the first with the date, team names and player positions. Over the years programmes have become big business for collectors: the rarest being the 1966 World Cup Final and the most valuable, the FA Cup Final 1882 Old Etonians v Blackburn Rovers at the Kennington Oval, sold for £35,250 in 2013.
But with declining sales and increasing costs EFL clubs voted in 2018 to end the mandatory rule with Stevenage becoming to the first professional club to offer a digital only match day read.
The Gulls’ rebranded 1899 match day programme is essential for collectors and souvenir hunters but for how much longer will the printed programme continue when there are no fans at matches?
Just over a year ago the club held a glittering Presentation Evening for the annual awards for the Top Scorer, Young Player, Player of the Year and fittingly Volunteer of the Year, a really good gesture by the club to recognise a passionate Yellow Army fan. Although this season was ended early surely these trophies should be awarded this year but Volunteer should be Supporter of the Year.
Who would you vote for? Send your nominations to:firstname.lastname@example.org
As always to all Yellow Army fans stay safe.
Nick Brodrick, TUST board member and Supporter Liaison Officer, writes a weekly column for the Herald Express under the heading "Fans' Zone". Keep an eye out for next weeks edition in the paper on Wednesday.