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Lobby your MP to ensure non-league gets its promised financial support

Against a backdrop of the national lockdown, the Trident Leagues at Steps 3 and 4 (Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian) have indicated a preference to cancel all remaining league fixtures. They are surveying their member clubs for their views on whether to continue with the 2020/21 season.

The clubs, which have already been navigating a precarious path this season, face an even more uncertain future and will require a support package to get them through the spring and summer without fixtures.

A dozen National League North clubs have written to Secretary of State Oliver Dowden, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) and The FA asking for reassurance that the promise of financial support that was made when restarting the season behind closed doors is delivered.

The FSA is urging supporters, and clubs themselves, to write to their local MPs to highlight their plight and to encourage DCMS to recognise the important role that football clubs play in communities across England and Wales to secure Government support over the coming months.

Having played a mixture of behind-closed-doors games and matches with reduced attendances, alongside restrictions on the sale of food and drink, hundreds of non-league clubs are already struggling financially.

The fact that they now face going without paying spectators until August, alongside ongoing restrictions on hospitality venues from which many clubs derive a second income in the way of venue hire and functions at bars and clubhouses, means many more will face an existential threat without guarantees of financial support.

Ongoing financial issues

The Winter Survival Support package for sports announced by the Government before Christmas to be administered by Sport England provides loans and not grants. The clubs claim that there was no mention of loans when clubs agreed in October to start the season behind closed doors.

They believe that financial support in the shape of loans is a betrayal of the promises made before the season restarted, arguing that many clubs may have taken the decision not to commence the season if they had known they would be required to take on debt.

With the controversy surrounding the initial package of £10m of National Lottery funding still to be settled, clubs are fearful that loans will further endanger the financial stability of clubs.

When writing to your MP we would advise you to stress the importance that you and your local community place on your club, as well as considering some of the below:

– Clubs have an underpinning effect not only on local economic activity but also a pivotal role in their communities, and are a key element in community, social and physical activity networks for local organisations and residents.

– The loss of a local club often means fewer opportunities for children and young adults to participate in sport, fewer opportunities for volunteering, and fewer accessible and affordable venues for community groups.

– According to an FA survey published in July 2019 Grassroots football is worth in excess of £10bn per year to the UK economy, creating more than £400m in contributions to the Exchequer and more than £40m in health benefits.

– The sheer number of clubs – the national league system consists of nearly 1,600 clubs competing in more than 100 leagues – means the demise of non-league will be very keenly felt by millions of people all across England and Wales.

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