Little teams face the darkest times of their lives
AT A time when we are being asked to alienate from each other as much as possible, a sense of community is sometimes all we can cling to.
Without fans, clubs in Leagues One and Two, in particular, face some very dark days ahead.
In normal times, 18 million people go to watch EFL matches every season. That is nearly 400,000 people making a pilgrimage on the average Saturday to show how much they care about the 11 men sent out to represent their club.
Hearing the classified results read out – made famous by Len Martin on Grandstand – was a weekly reminder to the wider world that we were part of the football map, an integral part of the wider tapestry of life.
No other country is like that to quite such a degree. Nowhere else could sustain 92 professional clubs with their regional rivalries and rich idiosyncratic histories.
There is a reason why it will always be a struggle to maintain that breadth of competition. Football is a sport. Sport is about competition. Sometimes the little team has their day against the big team, but the bigger team usually does better.
They reap bigger rewards as a result while the smaller team withers. Through good management, astute signings and a dollop of good fortune, those that do really well might even get their chance to bask in the Premier League’s riches.
It is all about being the best you can be, so why on earth give up some of your competitive edge to help your less well- managed rivals?
But it is the discrepancy in the amounts that sticks in the craw. The £ 100m a month the Premier League admits is leaking out of the national game will be spent many times over in the transfer market. At a time of national crisis, that is obscene.
The Premier League’s money men know clubs further down the pyramid will go bust.
Football as a whole most certainly can support itself without Government intervention. But it is in danger of emerging from this pandemic irrevocably poorer for having allowed this all to happen.