UNITED FOR SURVIVAL
Once upon a time we could just turn
up and watch our football team then celebrate or bemoan
their performance. Increasingly we have had to campaign
for the rights of our clubs to exist at all. David
Ravenscroft, an Exeter City supporter offers his thoughts
on the future of football.
As a fan of a lower League team,
Exeter City, I am becoming more and more concerned
about the plight of clubs that are facing the prospect
of going under and that no-one gives a damn about it.
Every day I read about fans from bigger clubs spend
millions for this player or that player when teams
like mine wonder if the wages are going to be paid.
I think it is about time when we
the fans should unite and fight for the very survival
of the clubs we see week in week out. I read about
the plight of Chester City, when even the manager paid
the water bill so the players could shower after the
match and there are countless other stories of clubs
not being able to pay for this or that. The fact is
that the big clubs like Man U, Liverpool, Newcastle
etc., seem to have forgotten that there is life outside
We have virtually no exposure on
TV except if we draw a big team in the FA Cup, the
national press coverage is a joke, all we hear about
is how we have the best league in the world. Itís a
pity that most of the big clubs canít prove it by winning
a major club trophy but as we can see they donít get
much further than the third round in European competitions.
Not so long ago teams in the lower
leagues would have young players on their books that
the bigger clubs would be interested in and would pay
good money for them. This was a good way of money being
distributed through football in general. But now most
of the Premiership buy their new players from abroad
and all the money is going out of the English game.
Will there ever be another Ian Rush, Kevin Keegan etc.,
I feel sorry for all those young British players who
donít seem to get a chance to play for a big club.
I think that the money in football
today has gone a long way to get rid of that community
feeling that having a league club in your town brings.
TV has a lot to answer for. When Sky bought the rights
to show football it seemed that ITV and BBC were just
waiting for Sky to make a mess of things and they could
pick up the pieces. This hasnít happened and now we
will soon be having pay-per-view sot that rich clubs
get richer and sod the rest. Our TV money has all but
gone, so the financial stranglehold is getting even
tighter. Once one club folds there will be a domino
The chairmen of the smaller clubs
need to get their heads out of the sand and wake up
because one day they might not have a club at all.
They need to unite with the fans and go to the FA and
say "What about us? We love football as well as the
big clubs, we play by your rules so come together with
us and lets find a way of helping each other. Also
our clubs must encourage youngsters to go to matches,
offer them free tickets to games, itís not as though
we sell out and there is no room. Go to local schools,
perhaps with some players and talk to them about their
local team getting involved with their sports departments.
Any way of getting people through the turnstiles. One
thing that hurts me more than anything is the sight
of children with Man United or Arsenal tops on and
they have never been to see their local team play.
What I think we should try to do
is join forces between clubs, and within clubs to get
the footballing bigwigs to listen to us because on
our own we are nothing but together they might just
think about what is happening to us.
Here are a few ideas we might try
1. Get the FA to think about ALL of football
2. The FSA needs a kick up the backside to think about the needs of lower
3. Tell club chairman Ė the fans love football Ė donít freeze us out
when we want to help
4. Perhaps we should form a lower league supporters association
5. Get more kids into local games
6. Get more press and TV to feature life outside the Premiership and
This is not simply a go at the tope
end of football . I know that most people who attend
smaller games support a top team as well, but I want
to try and redress the balance a bit. With most Premiership
matches sold out there is surely a group of supporters
who could be enticed to watch their local small club
now and again Ė they might even enjoy it.
Finally, to all supporters of smaller
clubs I would say that this is more important than
club rivalries. This is the difference between seeing
your team survive or died. Divided we will not win
but unite we might just wake some people up. I do not,
in the future want to watch a game on TV on pay-per-view
at £15 a time because that is the only option available.
Donít think ďMy clubís all right now. Itíll never happen.Ē It
could. Lethargy will only let the money men win in