The Future of Non League Football – How far is too far?

Hardened non-league supporters and groundhoppers alike regularly clock up several hundred, maybe even a couple of thousand miles a season to watch games.  Jenni Silver explains how had it is for some clubs, and what could be done to alleviate the problem in our final view on what could be done to improve the non league game.

Despite regional groupings further down the pyramid there are always the anomaly teams, the ones which are out on a limb and a fair old coach journey away. For years this was Truro, the scourge of many Southern League sides who were forced to sit for five hours or more on a team bus all the way down the M5 and beyond.

The White Tigers themselves had a refreshingly decadent attitude to the distance, at one point chartering a plane to take them to a Step 4 fixture against Cirencester Town. They now sit happily in the Conference South, still traveling vast distances but not making too much fuss about it. The proposed changes to Step 5 looked set to double some club’s traveling at a level where wages and budgets may not stretch to a full coach, before they were shelved. Meanwhile up in Step 2, the Conference North and South in old money, the problem is fast approaching crisis point.

With the imaginary north/south divide wobbling and changing each year, moving ever closer to the M25, the debates on what is fair and how far a semi-professional team should travel are increasing each year.

It starts off around April, when regulations and promotions are finalised, with the weighting of promoted sides from Step 2 tipping in a southerly manner the imaginary line drops down, and the 22nd most northerly of the southern teams ends up in a new league, full of flat caps, strong accents and mysterious destinations like Vauxhall Motors and Colwyn Bay. Continue reading