HERALD EXPRESS - FANS' ZONE 19/09/2020
WITH NEW DOUBTS OVER FANS RETURNING, UNITED HAVE THREE EXCITING EMERGING TALENTS
If ever any proof was needed that these are unprecedented, topsy-turvey times you only have to read last week’s column which was full of optimism for fans to return to football grounds at the elite levels as pilot events were not only being planned -for as many as 10,000 paying supporters at Wembley at the end of the month for the FA Vase and Trophy finals - but were already underway at Doncaster races, cricket and EFL football at Cambridge United.
However, the rising R rate, increasing positive coronavirus cases plus the introduction of the ‘Rule of Six’ seems to have put a lid on the progress that was being made. The Wembley Finals are postponed while the Premier League has called a halt to any pilot games after the Government said that the maximum numbers allowed would be limited to 1000, adding in a strongly worded statement:“ For each month of the season without fans, more than £100m is lost to football across the leagues with consequential damage to the local and national economy. It also harms the employment prospects of more than 100,000 people whose jobs depend on match day activities.”
What will all this mean for the October 3 start for the National League? What is clear is that should grounds remain closed to fans clubs will not be able to survive financially for long as playing games behind closed doors is not an option. But with protocols and events changing all the time it’s difficult to predict what might happen next. And as Gary Johnson says, should the season be brought to a halt it’s important to get as many points on the board as quickly as possible.
It might not, certainly in the case of the Gulls, be all gloom and doom, because for a modest £4 the Yellow Army were able to live stream Saturday’s pre-season friendly where visitors, Hemel Hempstead gave United a stern test which is what the players want and needed. There were a number of bright performances notably Josh Umerah and Olaf Koszela up front with Louis Slough impressive at the back. In time could one of these three earn the club some decent transfer funds? Or all three?
Intriguingly there were a wide range of shirt numbers used so might we expect the squad numbers soon?
With BT Sport announcing their live matches to the start of 2021, the Yellow Army won’t miss a trick hopefully to watch a Halloween treat when United go to Hartlepool. All 24 National League clubs get one TV match with Stockport County, Wrexham, Notts County and Weymouth, the fortunate ones, each appearing twice.
National League news: Over the weekend this column carried out two surveys of all the National League clubs to see firstly, how many offer live streaming, with 11 doing so. At nine clubs this was free, with only United and Wealdstone (£5.99) charging.
The other interest was whether all clubs were now selling season tickets and not all are, with Bromley, Chesterfield, Eastleigh, Woking and Wrexham not doing so this season. A number of others have limited how many - Boreham Wood (500), FC Halifax (1000), Hartlepool (1500), Solihull Moors (500) and Weymouth (500).
The problem for clubs, including United, is how every club’s Safety Advisory Group’s advice will decide about ground capacities. Interestingly, for Wrexham’s home pre-season friendly on Saturday they produced a digital match-day programme for downloading; is this going to be the way forward?
Both Chesterfield and Weymouth are appealing for ‘Volunteer Marshals’ to help out on match days to direct fans with the new entry methods, one way systems and seating. Sounds rather like the MatchDay Ambassadors United used in their National South promotion year. As the MatchDay Ambassador co-ordinator I know we would be more than willing to help the club, if required and asked. ******************
Well, yes it’s only one game and as Gulls’ boss Gary Johnson says, the National League is really League Three, as there is little difference between the National League and League Two, so who sits top of League Two but Harrogate Town after thumping last season’s strugglers, Southend United 4-0 at Roots Hall on the opening day.
Many thanks to those who have sent in suggestions for the new ‘Three Word Fun’ - send me your three words that sum up your thoughts and excitement about returning to Plainmoor (let’s remain positive) to: firstname.lastname@example.org
As always to the Yellow Army stay safe.
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