A Posse Ad Esse

Every day I get dozens of emails, promising me the world in return for a little bit of sponsorship.  However, few prick my interest as the one last week that was inviting me to a press conference at Wembley FC where ex-England manager (and footballing “Technical Advisor”) Terry Venables was going to make a big announcement.  Well, Tel and Budweiser.  The American brewing giants had got involved with the club last year as part of their commitment to the grass roots game.  That and the sponsorship of the FA Cup, which of course lives in at Wembley Stadium, its arch casting a shadow of a sunny Vale Farm pitch.

When I arrive I am taken aback.  We were last here for Hendon (their tenants) v Lewes back in September.  Since then the place has had a lick of paint or two, and the brand new clubhouse gleams.  Our hosts have laid on food for the waiting throng – and I mean a throng.  I had been worried I would be the only person here, but the room is packed.  Around 100 people are gathered to hear what this is all about. Continue reading

The Future of Non League Football – flexibility in kick off times to boost takings

Today’s idea, which follows the same principal as all of our others in being filed in the section “Not rocket science” comes from the ever amusing Putajumperon who combines watching Watford with local grass roots football.

The ritual Sunday morning scouring of the fixtures pages in Non League Paper has become an obsession for me, and a concern for my wife. I’m optimistically looking for two things; the perfect midweek game to go to, and the possibility of a second game at the weekend.

Like so many other football supporters (notice I didn’t say “fans”) I was dragged to football by my forefathers and am now dragging my young son along too. The team that was chosen for me was an average Division 4 Watford side; not a glamorous club, but it was a step up from Isthmian League Wycombe Wanderers games I’d seen thus far. Fast forward 35 years and I’ve started watching non league football again. I’d even say I’ve fallen in love with football again as a result. I won’t give up Watford (I can’t) but now I want to see as much football as possible, and I mean real football not the self-satisfying top league… And this brings me back to the NLP’s fixtures pages and my goal: two games a week, with or without Watford.

With midweek games it’s easy, there’s always something nearby to sate my desires, but Saturday is a serious problem. With Watford at home I can only optimistically hope there’ll be an early, or late, kick-off nearby so I can get two games in (there’s five or six teams right on the doorstep). I know I’m not alone in this quest, and I know I’m not alone in being disappointed. The thing is if all these (non-televised) clubs could work together they could very easily tweak kick off times so supporters could attend two games.

Take Saturday 14th April. At 2.15pm 87,231 supporters left Wembley Stadium after the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Everton. 45 minutes later (when most of those fans were standing in hideously lengthy queues for trains outside Wembley Park) Hendon FC kicked off an important play-off chasing match with just 224 supporters watching.

When you add to the mix that, showing one’s semi-final ticket, admission to the game was only £5 it’s staggering that, as far as I’m aware, I was the only one at both games. Given that Budweiser sponsor both the FA Cup and now Wembley FC where Hendon play you’d have thought some promotion of the latter’s game could have easily drawn at least 100-200 supporters over from Wembley, to watch Hendon, and The Grand National, and use their bar. Of course this is an extreme example but with the need for cash lower down the game, I’d have thought promotion of games to get fans in is essential, after all 100 extra fans at this game would’ve resulted in £750+ extra on the takings. (The crazy thing is, when I left Hendon there were still supporters queuing for trains home from Wembley). Continue reading

Down Wembley way

The tie up is quite obvious when you think about it, but it still raised a few eyebrows when it was announced yesterday – Budweiser, the King of Beers has announced that they are entering into a partnership with Combined Counties League side, Wembley FC.  Being a firm fan of the non league ground, I welcome any “big business” getting involved in our grass roots game.

The deal forms part of Budweiser’s long-term FA Cup commitment to grassroots football, championing clubs at all levels and bringing the romance and heritage of the tournament closer to the fans. Budweiser will be working closely with Wembley FC to bring forward infrastructure improvements to enhance the club and player facilities, including a clubhouse upgrade and provision of a team minibus.  Other initiatives include the implementation of a new responsible drinking programme as well as promotion of the club in the wider Wembley community.

Jason Warner, Global VP Budweiser, commented, “We believe that the best way to champion the FA Cup is to celebrate its uniqueness from the grassroots up. Wembley FC has an incredible heritage and story to tell. We look forward to helping fulfil their dreams.”

Budweiser’s continued support of local teams in The FA Cup follows on from last year’s success with the first-ever live streaming of a sporting event on facebook which saw over 30,000 people worldwide view the extra-preliminary round match between Wembley FC and Ascot United. This ambitious move will hopefully see the football underdogs’ FA Cup journey continue further than their First Qualifying Round exit in the 2011/12 season.

Iain Newell, Budweiser’s Marketing Director, added: “The sponsorship of Wembley FC is consistent with Budweiser’s commitment to the sport of football and our involvement with the FA Cup. The type of improvements with Wembley FC will showcase our intent of working with grassroots football in the UK. We have further exciting plans for a grant programme that other non-league clubs will benefit from. This is a joint initiative between Budweiser and The FA and more details will be announced in due course.”

Brian Gumm, Chairman of Wembley FC, comments: “We’re not a big club but we have big ambitions. With Budweiser as our sponsor we now have a shot at making those dreams come true.

For more information on The FA Cup with Budweiser visit www.Facebook.com/BudweiserUK