Basingstoke Town Chairman, Kevin White, has called for the league to learn from the lessons of COVID-19 and work on a restructure of the leagues from Steps 3-6 to help clubs recover and thrive moving forward.
“Now is the perfect time to be working on the restructure of steps 3-6 in a bid to make it more regionalised” said Kevin White, “it’s the perfect time to remove the pressure that is put on clubs and fans alike to travel such lengthy journeys to play and support”
“We were aware of plans to do this at the end of the 2019-2020 season and for some unknown reason it got pushed to the wayside. You’d like to think they’d have already completed a lot of that work in terms of process and organisation by that point.”
“There has always been a need to restructure to ease pressure in terms of travel – but the situation clubs have found themselves in over the course of the past 12 months, there needs to be a life line handed out and this would be a way of doing it.”
“In the Southern League we are forced to travel 300+ mile round trips on more than one occasion with a further 70% of away games being a 125 mile plus round trip. ‘
“Travelling costs alone can be anywhere between £8,000 – £10,000 and with the distances we have been travelling it can also put off travelling support. Which harms club’s community offering and also the home ground who don’t benefit from the entrance fees.’
“As a football family, I think it’s important that we encourage as many supporters to travel to both home and away to games, to enable us to do that regionalising leagues is the only real way. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to give something back to the community that is the only reason non-league continues to live on – non-league supporters, I know that is true of our club and I’ve no doubt the sentiment is shared by clubs up and down the country.”
“Added to that, non-league football has a real opportunity to pick up a number of arm-chair premier league supporters with growing divergence due to the systems in the professional game such as VAR. Now is the perfect time to do it. Give non-league clubs a life-line and give supporters a chance to watch their teams that they care about so much.”