Feature: Non-Leagues battle against COVID-19
Updated: May 4, 2020
The COVID-19 coronavirus has changed life as we know it and has blackened our world with a dark sheet of uncertainty, especially since UK lockdown was announced in late March. With the government’s strategy being to minimalise crowds, therefore easing severe strain at any one time on the NHS, it was inevitable sport would eventually be suspended – but that decision has been extremely testing for many non-league clubs.
Many smaller clubs rely heavily on income through matchdays, hospitality and other events to fund outgoings like player wages throughout the season. Dagenham and Redbridge managing director Steve Thompson opened up to the Guardian on his clubs struggles recently, saying:
“Potentially some clubs are not going to survive this, we’ve got a large social facility with two function rooms and lots of clubs in non-league, and Leagues One and Two, rely on that income.
“It’s not just the football, it’s everything around it. We are no different to restaurants, bars and hotels who are seeing a downturn in their numbers. We’re all in the hospitality industry.”
April 21st saw former Welsh champions Rhyl FC announce they were being forced to close down after 141 years of existence, while other clubs like SF Sports Marketing client Frome Town FC have been utilising platforms like ‘Crowdfunder’ to aid their financial battle against coronavirus through the generosity of fans and players.
Other clubs have also been asking fans to buy season tickets in advance to help with cashflow, while many Premier League outfits have come under fire from different directions, with some considering placing staff on the governments furlough scheme despite their massive wealth, something which Thompson believes could be used to help smaller clubs.
“We’re talking £10m to £20m just to support the National League clubs over three or four months. Premier League clubs spend hundreds of millions, but the vast majority of that goes on salaries and those players are on contracts.”
Germany have arguably managed the coronavirus outbreak the best in Europe, their strategy to ‘test, test, test’ as promoted by the World Health Organisation, leaving them in a position where football could resume as early as May 9th. In the UK however, the government have hinted that social venues such as pubs and clubs could remain closed until 2021 to help prevent a second wave of infection; so when considering the crowds football matches bring in, it will likely be many more months until football can kick off again.
READ MORE: Getting your crowd behind your Crowdfunder appeal