Thomo’s Terrace Talk: Premier League spending creating a void for non-league clubs to fill

PUBLISHED: 12:15 20 January 2011

THIS week we have been reminded how the fortunes, or even survival, of a sports club can be directly related to the flow of money.

Saffron Walden Town FC are struggling after a winter of discontent. A number of games have been cancelled because of bad weather and, at boardroom level, senior member Bill Lee cited personal reasons for leaving the club after 30 years of sponsoring and supporting.

In contrast, the town’s rugby club appear to have everything in place to prosper, on and off the pitch. They all but own their ground, have the finances to build new facilities, and have an army of volunteers with ideas and drive.

What both clubs share however is the need for local residents to support them.

Going to matches and cheering on home-grown players should become more and more popular as the recession bites.

Premier League clubs continue to raise ticket prices and alienate fans with big spending – £24million on Darren Bent for example – and a void is being created for non-league clubs to step in to.

Evidence of this has already been seen at Walden’s Catons Lane ground. They have the highest average attendance in the Ridgeons First Division, 147, with over 1000 people coming through the gates so far this season.

But more would be welcome for all the clubs in the area. Both Walden sides are in a push for promotion and in Stansted we have league champions and an FA Vase run.

Walden FC skipper Tommy Butchart indicated this week that clubs will struggle with the lack of finances, usually generated on match days and via club functions. And the weather has really upset the financial rhythm of many teams in the area.

So, it is up to loyal supporters to start flocking back as winter thaws and support local teams or they could start to see one or two starting to vanish.

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