Will cost of living crisis affect non-league football?
We are all well aware we’re in the middle of a cost of living crisis and the other day a post made on Twitter caught my eye and seemed a very good piece for a blog, the question being are we going to see some effect on the non-league game which saw something of a resurgence in the attendance figures next season or ultimately will it see an even better response?
There are certainly a few factors that could cause some clubs to have a re-think especially at the lower levels about their finances. Rising energy costs don’t escape a football club at any level, electricity to power floodlights later in the year and changing rooms with showers, the tea hut, petrol for the mower to cut the pitch, travel expenses for players, the list is an endless one.
There isn’t a great deal clubs can cut from that list, leagues can help by allowing kick off times to be brought forward in the winter by an hour which would allow for a significant saving, most clubs will agree that’s by far their most costly expense and while it might not mean a lot to many it can make a huge difference to have those bulbs going twice a week with a midweek match as well.
While we’re on the subject of matches themselves are we going to get to a point where players and officials struggle to travel to games, similar to what we had when the ‘fuel shortage’ was in effect last year? Disposable income only goes so far and a choice between work and the extra in football isn’t going to be a competition for some, hopefully it won’t come down to that and we actually see a little bit of improvement for us all in the coming weeks and months.
I think we can agree most of non-league saw big increases in their attendance levels throughout 2021-22 which was great to see and no doubt gave players and staff at clubs such a buzz to see so many fans watching games. As per above a little, the same income for fans is going to be squeezed into whether they can attend all games or need to pick and choose where they go.
It's either that or cutting down on something else when that football fix is all that keeps some going from week to week. Some might change where they go and head more local meaning someone somewhere is going to benefit from their attendance, the difference could be the amount of ticket offers going on at clubs or a smaller season ticket, say 10 games at a time which might be more affordable at two points in a footballing year.
What it might also do is price more people out of top level football given the expense for a family to head to a Premier League game these days, it might actually give more back to the non-league game, time will tell with that but it’s another area where the game can attack and bring in more money.
From what I’ve seen over the past year or so is a lot of clubs have increased their social media presence and also used it a lot more to great effect, to me it’s one of the biggest tools you can use to show people all about your club and to promote things quickly and efficiently, local newspaper coverage is very sparse these days and now that is the best way to communicate with your supporters, groundhoppers and those who want to know about you.
While it might sound as if this is a bit pessimistic non-league football is showing it’s very inventive and trying to be as much at the forefront as it can be, a few tweaks in the right places and we might not see any changes next season, fingers crossed……