Kent MP Tracey Crouch: We are writing to request the Government allow for the urgent return of fans to Non-League football clubs, which are the heart of our constituencies and for whose future we fear
The FIGHT to get Non-League football fans into our beloved Non-League football clubs has been highlighted with vital parliamentary support.
Two Conservative MP’s – Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan DBE – the MP for Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire - and football crazy Tracey Crouch – the MP for Chatham and Aylesford – have written a joint letter to Nigel Huddleston MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Department for Digital, Media and Sport.
The Football Association published their Competition draws today and The FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round ties take place on Tuesday 1 September 2020
These games for clubs in the lowest two tiers of the National League System MUST BE PLAYED WITH CROWDS otherwise our beloved clubs will simply go out of business.
A statement from The Football Association said: "We have been working closely with the Government on the return of spectators at football matches at FA National League System level and will provide an update on this in due course."
The Non-League football family are baffled that people (without wearing face coverings) were allowed to watch Ronnie O’Sullivan win his sixth World Snooker title at the iconic Crucible Theatre in Sheffield at the weekend.
People can watch cricket matches, attend cinemas, protests, crowded pubs and sit on crowded beaches – yet football fans are banned from attending Non-League football matches.
But this must change, with vital support from inside the Houses of Parliament fighting our corner, for which we are grateful.
“We are writing to request the Government allow for the urgent return of fans to Non-League football clubs, which are the heart of our constituencies and for whose future we fear,” said the letter.
“Our Non-League football structure across England is football at its purest, often at the heart of our community, rich in diversity and a starting point for many a talented footballer but unlike League football cannot rely on broadcast or sponsorship income streams.
“Their gate and refreshment income streams are vital for financial sustainability even if beyond Level Five, crowds are on average, in their hundreds rather than thousands.
“While there are outliers in lower Steps many club gates are in double figures but enough with bar takings to just about sustain the club. Yet the fans returning to support their small local clubs is being considered in the same way as League football clubs, which is incomparable and ultimately unfair.
Many of our Non-League clubs joined their wealthier League cousins in supporting their local communities throughout the pandemic, providing targeted and appreciated support for neighbouring residents and in return deserve our support for the return of their fans.
“While we appreciate the challenges of getting a larger number of supporters back into League stadia, especially due to fans having to travel using public transport to and from their clubs, Non-League clubs tend to be supported by those within the town itself.
“Given we are now allowing indoor activities to resume in a Covid-safe way, we simply do not understand why Non-League Non-League football clubs in outdoor stadia cannot allow their small but loyal fans back in through the gates.
“As representatives of these local clubs we fear that if we don’t do something soon, they will be lost forever.
“Therefore, we urge you to consider the return of supporters to Non-League clubs separately to League club and urgently open the gates and lets fans in.”
Crouch, a football coach here in Kent, said on her Twitter account: “Football has many wonderful layers but Non-League is often at its heart and soul.
“With fewer fans it’s easier to make clubs Covid secure but without them coming back soon their future is shaky so we’ve written to Sports Minister calling for Non-League clubs to #LetFansIn.”
The Non-League football family WILL WIN our biggest match of the season!