Here we go again
For the second time in a matter of months grassroots sport has had a giant, virus shaped shadow cast over it. With news leaking on Friday that the government intended to bring in a second national lockdown, the Whitehall machine was rocked in to bringing forward the announcement, and once the twice delayed press conference was wrapped up, there remained more questions that answers.
Boris Johnson proudly proclaimed that the Premier League would continue, but no mention was made of amateur or junior sport. When Kevan Jones, the Labour MP for North Durham asked about the evidence for cancelling grassroots sport, Johnson gave little in the way of information, but did go on the record as saying non-elite sports would be cancelled for the initial 28 days of the second lockdown.
With the FA still to relay any information publicly, clubs are left in limbo, planning for games that are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, but accepting that come Thursday they will not be able to continue.
Without the safety net of television money, amateur sports clubs have been battling against irrational obstacles relating to their capacities to try and survive. Northern League clubs have been limited to 150 fans per game and many have met that capacity game after game, their earning powers limited. A (minimum) 28 day shut down will massively hamper the finances of these clubs, the majority of which do not have a benefactor and rely on gate receipts and hospitality takings to stay afloat.
Whilst the EFL and the Premier League try to come up with a deal to filter down some cash whilst dealing with a ‘Big 6’ power grab, the National League received a government bail out worth up to £10m to be divided between the member clubs. What hasn’t been made clear is what support will be offered to clubs below the National League, where the real soul of the game lies. With the expectation that games will be cancelled for four weeks, the uncertainty levels ramp up.
Here at Footy in Durham we are looking at ways to help, whether it is making donations of ticket entry or helping clubs devise schemes that would see them stay afloat. As always, we are more than willing, and would like to use the limited platform we have for good. Please get in touch to discuss, float ideas or just for a bitch and moan.