The TBIR Blueprint for the future of Non League football – part 2

After the successful launch of our campaign, and our feature on the BBC Non League Show no less we are ploughing on with points 4 to 6 on our agenda for change.  To review or comment on points 1 to 3 click here, otherwise forever hold your peace.

4. All clubs to offer free entry to under 16’s.
Let’s face it, children should not have to pay to watch football.  In fact how many actually watch the whole game anyway? Earlier in March I took both of my young children to Chelmsford City.  They were charged £3.50 each.  £7 for two under ten’s who were then going to spend about the same on snacks, sweets and drinks.  They saw no value in the £7.  How is charging that amount encouraging parents to bring their children to the games.

Kids go free, but Leprechauns are extra

Families are being priced out of the professional game.  Even in League Two, a child of 7 years old can be charged at up to £10.  In the Blue Square Bet Premier some clubs charge up to £7 for juniors which again is far too high.

My reasoning?  The pocket money test.  Apparently the average weekly pocket money for a ten year old in England is £4.92, well according to the Daily Mail so it’s not 100% correct.  In the Fuller household it is £2.50, rising to £3.50 for chores.  So according to Crawley Town, if a ten year old wanted to go to a game they will have to pay twice the weekly “salary” of my ten year old.  To put that in an adult context, if they charged the same twice the weekly wage to get in then a ticket to watch a Blue Square Bet Premier league game would cost over £1,600!

At the start of this season I did some research on behalf of Lewes FC on ticket prices.  The cheapest basic entry in the league was £9, the most expensive £11.50 (Chelmsford City again).  But only two clubs offered free entry for the under 16’s – Lewes and Farnborough.  Since then a number of clubs have brought in the scheme realising the value it has as a marketing tool. Continue reading

The TBIR Blueprint for the future of Non League football – part 1

Non league football is the lifeblood of the game today, yet gets little attention from the media (apart from radio shows like the excellent BBC Non League Show or the Non League Paper).  It is not in the best of shape to put it mildly.  In the past year numerous clubs have gone to the wall, with not even a batting of an eye from the Premier League or the Football League.  So what can we do about it?  Well, we’ve got our heads together and come up with our 10 point agenda for change, our manifesto if you like.  Today we launch part one covering the first three points.

1. Create standard co-operation partnership agreements between Premier League/Football League clubs and Non League teams.
Now this may seem like madness, but there is significant sense in this move as the Hyde/Manchester City model has shown. Last summer, after coming perilously close to being wound up in the High Court, Blue Square Bet South’s Hyde United signed a three year “partnership” agreement with Manchester City. City would refurbish Hyde United’s Ewen Fields ground and play their Elite Squad (aka reserve) games there and in return Hyde would lose the United and change their kit from red and white to white and blue (with a distinctly Man City-like diagonal stripe).

Nine months on and a visit to the ground does indeed show how smart it is, resplendent with perimeter boards for Etihad and Umbro. However on the field the team have continued to struggle and again this year face a tough fight against relegation. The excellent Ian King over at Twohundredpercent wrote about these odd bedfellows last year. Continue reading

Northern roadtrip – Day 4 – Jekyll and Hyde

After the high’s of Gainsborough a day’s R and R was in order, which was spent hunting down a pub with an internet connection in LN6. Fortunately ASDA came to the rescue and I spent an hour or so there, reconnecting with society. Fully recharged I headed across the A57 on the notorious Snake Pass ready for another slice of Blue Square Bet North life. I was heading west for the Tameside Derby.  And as luck would have it a chance to see another one of the relegation candidates at the foot of the Blue Square Bet North.

This really is a different country. After I left the M1 I passed exotic places I had only ever seen on the Northern League website.  Stockbridge Park Steels, Glossop North End and Retford United were all passed on the way although the weather up on the moors was not really conducive to playing football. With just 10 miles left to go on the SatNav I was driving past fields of snow and minus 2 degrees. Continue reading

Northern roadtrip day 2 – The wholly Trinity

This was not in the plan. Today was all about Glapwell – the search for their fans and Joanne Guest. But instead the northern climate put pay to that idea early on Saturday as well as Plan B (not literally as we tend to like his tunes in TBIR Towers). But having good time management meant I had already scoped out a Plan C. Big tick in the box for that. The only problem is that Northern Steve’s gaff is the only place in the UK it seems without any mobile phone coverage, and when Sky decided to cause him terminal t’internet trouble we were catapulted back to the seventies in terms of communications.

We sent out a carrier pigeon to the nearby town of Gainsborough, and a few hours later it returned saying “eh up lads, game is on”. So we were off, following road signs confusingly for a place called “Gainsboro’ “. It seems the local councils up here realised that by saving 2 letters off every road sign they could make enough money each year for their Christmas party. We drove through the flat Lincolnshire countryside, passing a second ex-Little Chef that had been converted into an Adult Shop (the 1st FYI is on the A1 going south just after Grantham). The poor locals must get terribly confused. One day they would be popping down for nibble on a muffin and the next, well , they could have a nibble on a muff in(side). Continue reading

The future of the football programme


The definitive guide to football programmes


For over a hundred years football programmes have been the vital accompaniment to any match. Even the smallest, most insignificant game is normally commemorated by the issue of a matchday programme. I know some people who will not count that they have been to see a game unless they can get a programme or at least a team sheet.  They have also been in some instances a valuable commodity, with some programmes being sold at major auction houses around the world for more than £20,000, although ironically these days when programmes are mass produced glossy “brochures”, the programmes that fetch the highest bids on the likes of eBay are pirate programmes, often complete with spelling mistakes and miscredited photos.

When West Ham went on their last “European Tour” there was not a programme issued for the game in Palermo.  There was an official press pack that of course found its way onto eBay, but the greatest demand came from a fake programme issued in small numbers, and sold to arriving fans at Palermo airport complete with photos of Rio instead of Anton Ferdinand, and the recently departed Marlon Harwood instead of Carlton Cole.  Oh, and of course the club were managed by Alan Mildew instead of Pardew. Continue reading