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Northern Premier League clubs tell Government they face “ruin”

Three of the biggest Northern Premier League clubs have joined forces to write to the Government warning that they face financial ruin if urgent measures are not taken.

FC United of Manchester, Scarborough Athletic, and South Shields operate at step three of the non-league system which is the highest level designated “grassroots” under Covid-19 regulations and means they are permitted limited crowds of up to 600.

However, that still means reduced gate revenue as Scarborough Athletic average around 1,000 spectators while FC United of Manchester and South Shields can typically expect 1,600. 

Yesterday the sports minister said that any club in immediate financial distress should alert their sport’s governing body, which all three clubs say they have done repeatedly, only to be told that there has been no confirmation of any support for affected clubs below the National League.


In a letter addressed to Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS) secretary of state Oliver Dowden the clubs said they felt “abandoned” and faced “ruin”.

“We understand that we are only a handful of clubs who have slipped between the cracks of elite and grassroots, but we feel abandoned. We are haemorrhaging more in lost gate receipts, through no fault of our own, than 30 National League clubs who will all receive financial assistance.

“We are facing ruin for having business models that rely on high supporter engagement, something which prior to Covid had always been regarded as the way clubs should be run. We would ask you to consider that we are good, sustainable clubs in greater difficulty than many National League clubs. Our clubs matter to us, they matter to our supporters, and they matter to our local communities.”

The clubs say the situation is unsustainable and that some local authorities are imposing further measures which go beyond those set out by the DCMS.

South Shields’ capacity is currently cut to 300 and Scarborough have been forced to start the season behind closed doors – the club teamed up with Whitby Town yesterday and released a joint statement urging Public Health North Yorkshire to allow the return of fans.

New regulations introduced last week also require all food and drink to be purchased and consumed at a table – this has a huge impact on revenue as fans can no longer buy a pie and a pint to enjoy on the terraces.

Football Supporters’ Association chair Malcolm Clarke signed the letter and called upon the Government to act now. 

“These clubs play a huge role in their communities and matter so much to their supporters. If the Government and local authorities enforce measures which send otherwise sustainable clubs to the brink of ruin then they must come up with urgent financial solutions to save them,” said Clarke.

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