The Blueprint for Non League Football – Just who runs the leagues anyway?

Today’s lesson in how to keep our grass roots game alive comes from one of Non Leagues most respected coaches, Hugo Langton.

So another non league football season has drawn to a close. I can safely say the last few months has been very tough due to a ridiculous fixture congestion. I joined the management team at Hastings United in February on the back of their outstanding FA Cup run.

Every year the Ball is Round ask me what I would like to change about non league football. Well this year I would like common sense to be introduced by those who run the leagues. Let me explain why…

Hugo-Langton3When I joined Hastings United in February, the club still incredibly had over half of their league games to play. The weather this year has been awful too, and so there were long periods when no one could play games. In our league, the Ryman Premier League, we weren’t alone. Other teams like Lowestoft and Concord Rangers also had a huge back log of fixtures. It resulted in us playing games every 2 days for 4 weeks. Continue reading


The Future of Non League Football – The Inequalities of the leagues

In the first week of May the play off semi-finals took place across most non leagues. However, whilst the fans at Dulwich Hamlet, Bognor Regis Town and Lowestoft Town stood enthralled at the tense ending to their games, the semi-finals at Sutton United and Basingtstoke Town were less so. In all instances the games were settled by one goal or in the case of Bognor, on penalties. But in the case of the Blue Square Bet South games it was simply half time. Welling United and Dartford took their one goal away wins into their home legs the following week. Unfortunately, for Wealdstone, Folkstone Invicta and Godalming, their seasons were over.

And therein lies the problem. After 42 league games stretching eight months most teams existed the play offs after a one off “Cup Final”. So why does the Blue Square league structure have two legged semi-finals (just like the nPower Football Leagues) whilst every league below that has to make do with a 90 minute (plus extra time and penalties) scrap? Is that fair? We think not.

The leagues will wheel out the same old story about needing to finish the season as early as possible to get ready for the next season, but what difference would one more game make? The Blue Square North and South play off finals do not take place until mid-May, so why not play ALL play off finals on one weekend. By the time the two teams who will be entering the Blue Square Bet Premier are decided, the feeder leagues will be done and dusted and the players will be on their way to the beach (well, Skegness then).

Continue reading