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Friday Freebie: Have some non-league clubs been a little hard done by?
More than a few losing out on FA Cup weekend
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In 7 days’ time Horsham and Sheppey Utd will kick off their Emirates FA Cup 1st Round ties against Football League opposition. With the latter having played five ties to reach this point and the former having taken a couple of replays along their journey they’ve played a fair bit to get this far.
But both clubs have a little right to feel aggrieved despite Sheppey being the recipient of the live TV game. Horsham however have been dumped to the Friday night at the convenience of the local constabulary, but let’s put a little context into both of these.
Let’s start with Horsham, reaching the 1st Round Proper for the second time in three years, a fantastic experience awaiting them with a trip to League One Barnsley and a chance for these non-league players, management and supporters to enjoy a moment in the spotlight that doesn’t come around for every player at these levels.
Now maybe, or probably granted, South Yorkshire Police have very little knowledge of Horsham FC, but surely there must have been some kind of inside information to know they’re a part time team from the other end of country which invariably means they aren’t at the beck and call of football every minute of their lives.
The move to Friday evening has no doubt caused massive implications for all visiting aspects of the game. Players have their day jobs, a day’s annual leave now needing to be taken for not just them but the management staff, club officials and those wanting to support their team.
Many will miss out on the opportunity, children growing up who follow local and not the greedy money train of the top level would now need to miss a day of school.
The team itself might be understrength if the players don’t have understanding employers to let them take the day off, possibly two if the club travel on the Thursday to make sensible preparations as would EFL clubs, it’s not every day or week or even season they can undertake this, so why shouldn’t they be given every opportunity. Sunday was the sensible choice, one word in there that seems to be lacking when the thought process was happening, quite clearly.
Sheppey aren’t in the same boat with playing the same night after being given the live TV fixture as they host Walsall. They like all the non-leagues sides up against league opposition will be hoping for an upset and playing at their home stadium gives them every opportunity.
But having seen how the 1,400 capacity has been divided up, real fans once again aren’t going to watching live at the ground. There won’t be 1,400 fans inside Holm Park, just 1,400 people.
Walsall have been given just 220 tickets of which 170 are going to their own fans, 50 club officials and sponsors apparently taking up that many, why sponsors get a chunk from such a small percentage is baffling.
The FA are allowed to ‘demand’ 100 tickets for themselves and their sponsors, why? They do very little for the game at our level when they need to intervene but quite happy to bask in some glory when the TV cameras come calling, just shows their worth really.
Included within that 1,400 are the emergency services, everyone connected with the broadcasters as well which of course amount to a fair few which takes away a little of the romance of the cup, at times it makes you wonder whether the home draw was worth it and asked for the switch instead.
With that the unlikelihood of the TV taking up the game but the cost possibly laid out by Sheppey means there might not be much profit left in it. Of course the cameras are there for that potential upset, plenty will be hoping that it actually does happen.