Daily Express

Lit­tle teams face the dark­est times of their lives

- By Matthew Dunn Sports

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.

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