LET’S GRAB A BIG CHANCE TO CHANGE OUR GAME
By Nick Brodrick – Torquay United Supporters Trust (TUST) Supporter Liaison Officer
Why is the time right for a football revolution?
Last week’s paper reported new National League chairman Jack Pearce acknowledging the board needs to show more transparency, addressing independence while Torquay United manager, Gary Johnson, was making a plea for a re-structuring of promotion between the league and League 2.
Currently the Tracey Crouch Fans-Led Review is in full flow with her team having regular meetings to hear views and case studies, including from individual non-league clubs’ supporters: Dulwich Hamlet, Billericay Town, North Ferriby and Macclesfield Town amongst many.
TUST has also been involved in these meetings contributing to the discussions as this is, as FSA chair Malcolm Clarke says, “ A big opportunity to do something.” With Crouch’s interim report scheduled for late July time is of the essence.
There are clearly key issues at stake here with club governance and ownership as well as supporter engagement high on the list of priorities. Surely this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-set the football pyramid. Time to re-assess how the vast Premiership coffers can distribute their huge wealth fairly throughout all levels.
The Government had, in their last manifesto, promised to hold a review into football but it took, ironically, the action of six ‘greedy’ top teams to set up a Super European League before the review was given the green light.
TUST, like every other club’s supporters’ trusts, want to see how football fans can feel really involved and included by their clubs which are, especially, in non-league, the focus of their local communities. A fan’s local club is a lifeline and really important to their mental health and social well being.
We hope with anticipation that Tracey Crouch’s conclusions will lead to the football pyramid being run in a fair, proportionate and sustainable way. But this cannot be the end of the debate. The opportunity is here now for the FA to look at the positioning of the National League.
By and large the majority of the National League teams are full-time professionals whilst those in National North & South are mostly part-time so has the time come to reflect this in how the leagues are set out?
After all the FA has made a start with the restructure of the National League System at Steps 4-6. For the coming season the National League will have 12 former Football League teams, collectively combining hundreds of years of Football League experience each trying to make a return. And with clubs like Salford City, Forest Green Rovers, Harrogate Town and Sutton United making the leap from non-league the National League has proved to be a breeding ground for ambitious sides who can hold their own in higher divisions, so there’s no reason why clubs in North & South couldn’t make the jump.
So, as Gary Johnson argues, let’s push for two automatic places for promotion between the National League and League 2, with a third through the play-offs, as the influx of ‘new’ clubs into League 2 must be refreshing for all. Or why not go the whole way and see the National League become League 3?
With the FSA conducting a straw poll earlier in the week asking whether the top of the National League would be better served by being part of the EFL, it shows that the clamour for change is gaining momentum. The time to grasp the nettle is now, fans can influence football’s future and we need forward thinking, don’t squander this ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity.
What do readers think?
COYY – NICK
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