This season in the National League many clubs have opened up about their financial troubles and have exposed the faults in how teams are run in the top tier of non league football.
This has lead to many fundraisers such as the Hartlepool United just giving page, which has raised almost £85,000 to help save the club and prompted other clubs to coming out and confess to their troubles off the field.
Many clubs in the National League and below have owners who bankroll their teams when they make a loss; spending more than they should. This is seen at York City and their owner Jason McGill, who has covered a loss of £3.638million since taking control of the club over a period of ten years. It creates an unsustainable business model to run a football club in the fifth and sixth tiers of English Football.
The league is getting tougher every season as more teams opt for full time status, and the presumption would be that teams cannot simply afford to do this. There are only two promotion spots to the Football League which means that the losses will only be worth it for two of the however many teams who overspend in the division.
If you look at teams like Guiseley, the club have attendances of around 900 a game and have just escaped relegation by a single point the past two seasons running. They have decided to go full time this season and, again, are in the thick of a relegation battle. So why have the club gone professional? This is the case with many teams, the assumption is that in order to compete at this level then you need to operate as a professional outfit, despite what finances may suggest.
It’s of the opinion that the Premier League and FA should contribute more money to the National League. Clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea pay millions for a single player, and just a fraction of these transfer fees could help a non league club in need.
It’s worth mentioning that grassroots football already gains £100million from the Premier League each year which helps develop the game, but why should the Premier League have to subsidise what is effectively another teams mistake?
It’s my view that the influx of money offsets what non league is all about. Non league is supposed to be football in it’s purest form, which is why many fans are converting to their local clubs rather than supporting a top level team where prices have skyrocketed in recent years.
An idea that was proposed on one of the Facebook groups I follow is a financial fair play rule. If the National League can regulate and put certain financial restrictions on clubs then this will force teams to run as sustainable businesses instead of throwing money into the pot in a desperate attempt at promotion in the same season. This would hopefully create a more competitive league as well as making sure the teams are looked after properly.
It’s a debatable subject so let me know your opinions in the recent events. It would be interesting to hear views from Hartlepool United, Torquay United, Macclesfield Town, Dagenham & Redbridge and Chester fans.
Header image by Rex Features (BBC Sport)