It’ll Be Off

Non League Today
June 23, 2008, 9:54 am
Filed under: News | Tags: , ,

I find the following editorial from the inferior non league paper, Non League Today, as mystifying as it is worrying:

The newly-formed AFC Liverpool have won their `case` with the Football Association and have been placed into the Vodkat North West Counties League Second Division (Step 6).

The FA`s National League Systems Committee originally wanted AFC Liverpool to start their campaign in the Liverpool County League instead of the NWCL, despite the NWC being happy for them to start out in their competition.

However, at Monday`s meeting in Soho Square it was decided to relent and allow the disaffected Reds` supporters` side to begin life at the same level as FC United of Manchester when they formed a couple of years back.

I have nothing personally against AFC Liverpool, or any other of the fan-based clubs already formed. However, I reckon we are heading for dangerous waters and something needs to be done to prevent more of these `clubs` being formed.

If supporters want to attempt to buy into current clubs – as at Bromsgrove Rovers for example – then I have nothing against that. Indeed, back in the 1980s I was party to Kettering Town having supporters` representatives on the board of directors.

But`clubs` being formed from disenchanted fans should be halted by the FA.

If you are unhappy with the way your non-League club is being run/managed, there is currently nothing to prevent you from starting up an `AFC…….` and apply for acceptance into a Step 6 league – dangerous!

Steve Whitney, who wrote the piece, is entitled to an opinion, of course, no matter how wrong. But what he’s not entitled to is to voice this opinion in his paper without even attempting to back up any of his points. He fails to explain what his problem is with Fan Owned clubs, uses emotive language such as ‘dangerous’ on at least two occasions without taking the trouble to explain why it’s so, before finally signing off by suggesting that setting up and running your own club isn’t as dangerous as taking over an existing one and doing what you want with it. Clearly Mr Whitney has, despite his feeble ‘I have nothing personally against AFC Liverpool, or any other of the fan-based clubs already formed’ protestation, some sort of issue with us and our like, it’d be nice to know what it is.

Mr Whitney’s viewpoint isn’t an uncommon one, and it’s an issue I dealt with last week in my Mersey Paradise post. But, and I hate having to repeat myself, even when it’s completely necessary, it was bullshit then, and continues to be so. That Mr Whitney sees fit to use his paper as a mouth piece for these views is sad, bu as editor, his right. But perhaps you have to ask yourself if it’s the sort of paper you should be buying, even as a second choice for when they’ve run out of The NLP.

For Mr Whitney to suggest that the increase in Fan Owned Clubs is dangerous is to suggest that transparency in dealings, having a say in the future of your club and the game, and the reinvestment of all profits in to the game is dangerous. You have to wonder exactly Mr Whitney’s problem with that is, don’t you?


3 Comments so far
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I think Mr Whitney’s main problem is probably the same as a lot of non-league club’s fans. They see all these new clubs as taking the place of another club in the pyramid. *They* had to start at step 8/9/10/etc, so everyone should. And while that view is of course correct (and is indeed the one of the main arguments against the Franchise), there has to be a line drawn between sporting fairness and common sense – clubs like FCUM, AFCW and Liverpool Lite are only starting at the levels that they are because of health and safety reasons. A club with 2000 fans can’t start at the very bottom because of the lack of facilities at that level.

Now, this isn’t a major problem in the Northern leagues, because neither FCUM or Liverpool-Lite are taking someone else’s place in the pyramid – the same was true of AFC Wimbledon in the Combined Counties back in 2002. That said, since the non-league restructre, a similar club not in the North West, almost certainly *would* be taking the place of another club in the pyramid – would it be fair to Long Melford or Brantham Athletic if an AFC Ipswich came along and took their 20th spot in the Ridgeons Divison One? Of course it wouldn’t, because in reclaiming the sport for the fans, you can’t be a hyprocrite and be given the place that another set of fans have earned.

Of course, the big error in Whitney’s piece is that Liverpool-Lite is set up by disaffected Liverpool fans. It’s not. With the backing of Rick Parry, the features on the lfc website and their documentary on Liverpool TV, it’s just a Liverpool ‘C’ side. The difference between them and FCUM is absolute. You at FCUM are making a stand and refusing to contribute to helping Glazer buy the club. Liverpool-Lite are – well, I’m still not sure. It just sounds a little closer to MyFC than FCUM to me.

Comment by Phoebe Disco

If that is Whitney’s problem, then you worded it far more articulately than he managed. Perhaps, then, his crime isn’t that he’s grossly stupid, just bad at his job?

Comment by Taylor

Old post but interesting point. Fan owned club – AFC Rushden & Diamonds. Guess who is involved? Correct – Mr Whitney himself…

Comment by Irritating itch

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