At Non-League level below the National League we have now lost two seasons to the Covid pandemic, nevertheless it looks hopeful that there will be a proper start to the 2021/22 season with a full pre season.
However we need some very positive trends to ensure future success rather than looking backwards to what has gone before which as a country we are too good at. If there were Olympic medals for ‘Nostalgia’ we would win gold, silver and bronze.
It’s time to sweep away our reticence and urge the F.A. to complete their pyramid restructure tomorrow and let all the new leagues issue their fixture lists and give hope and interest to players, officials and fans to have something to really look forward to.
Plans could then be made on budgets and new innovative ideas shared and enacted by clubs to make the 2021/22 season one to remember and lay foundations for a renaissance of grass roots football.
Some clubs have unfortunstely not been able to weather the storm. For rxsmple in July, FC Oswestry Town announced they would be withdrawing from the North West Counties League and folding and In August, Droylsden FC resigned from the Northern Premier League.
On the flipside to this disappointing news there have been some major stadium updates or new stsdiums that will see their first games at the restart e.g. Wimborne Town , Staveley Miners Welfare and Boston United. They all incorporate 3g pitches for a wider community use and extra income generation. Boston’s new stand incorporates a climbing wall and a dance studio. What is needed is for local authorities to be more flexible in planning to allow club moves to new grounds but only when it is for the benefit of the community and not property developers.
Along with the restructure The F.A. should be arranging video forums for clubs to exchange ideas to encourage attendance and generate income, let’s not just keep ideas to oneself.
For example I attended a ground where the ‘gateman’ turned to his mate and said ” another ‘xxxx’ groundhopper”. This was so insulting and disappointing when on a visit to another ground a chat with an official said they had on average 10 groundhoppers per game who spent £10 each. This equated to £4000 per year. Why not encourage more groundhoppers and away supporters with a card (£5 each) for each league e.g. the United Counties League that they could get stamped on a visit to a stadium.
Why can’t teams in a region work together to promote each others games and have staggered kick off times to allow people to attend two games in a day. Take Sheffield for example:
Sheffield FC Northern Premier League Division One South East.
Hallam FC Northern Counties East League Division One
Handsworth FC Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Dronfield Town FC Northern Counties East League Division One
Stocksbridge Park Steels FC: Northern Premier League Premier Division
Yes there is great rivalry but working together they could achieve more. Perhaps Sheffield United and Wednesday could work with them as well they may find that they have a budding star on their doorstep. This is quite pertinant when looking at current Premier League players having had experience in the lower Leagues, Jamie Vardy at Stocksbridge, Tyrone Mings at Bath and Ollie Watkins at Weston Super Mare, just three examples. There are also nearby teams in Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster who could be involved too.
The new ‘Hope’ should take into account all interests children, youths, seniors’ female and male to create an inclusive culture that will generate the income that is needed for a continuing development.
Just a rant as I reflected on an Easter break devoid of local football