THE VIEW FROM THE BOARDROOM – Paul Armitages Notes (28/01/23)

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Hopefully the end of January will mean an improvement in the weather. Non league clubs struggle with the loss of off-field income and on-field momentum when snow and ice hit.

We all know that Odsal Top suffers greatly with its own micro climate! No wonder lots of our former players came from the bleaker regions of Scotland, though Canterbury Avenue wasn’t quite as tough as Horsfall!

As ever at the halfway point in the season Mark and Martin have strengthened the squad and added flexibility, cover and competition for places too, helped by the fundraising of the Development Fund, loan recalls and returning loanees. All the moves seem to have been well received by supporters too, which is good to know. No panic buys either.

In this economic environment we are also seeing many clubs reviewing how they can continue to afford the challenges of running a football club. It makes it frustrating to listen to the more extravagant tales of the transfer market where clubs, players and agents can earn enough to live well and could still afford to sponsor a non-league football club!

It would seem reasonable to tap into these massive transfer deals with a small percentage being drained away to support lower league clubs, which is an idea that may come through with an independent regulator.

At January’s EGM meeting of the National League we were advised that a NLN game would be tested for streaming very soon. The NL Premier League has already got streaming under way on Boxing Day.

Whilst we won’t be able to stream matches between 3pm and 5pm on Saturdays due to old legislation from decades ago, all other kick-off times would be available for streaming.
EFL analysis apparently suggests that gates are not affected adversely by streaming. It will be important to encourage participation in streaming through the NL website.

Whilst about 3% of streamers are international, that runs to over 50 countries already. 85% of streamers are UK based and the next largest audience are in North America.

The league should cover the cost of the camera, the signal and a camera operator. A clubhouse license to show games will cost £180 per match and NL profits from streaming will be shared monthly or quarterly with clubs.

Amongst other issues discussed, which hopefully won’t be part of Horsfall life:
Concern was raised by the FA and NL about the increased crowd problems with pyrotechnics, discriminatory abuse, be that racial, homophobic or misogynistic and obscene chants.

Another interesting nugget was that in League 2 the ball was in play on average for just under 50 minutes, which led to concerns raised about the increasing level of time-wasting in games.

Back to Horsfall and we are planning to experiment with a ‘double header’ sporting day soon, with West Bowling starting their Challenge Cup journey with a Saturday morning kick-off and Avenue having its usual afternoon game against Leamington. It’s an imaginative solution to WB being drawn at home and the ensuing fixture clash created.

In a city with fans who like both football and rugby league, it is hopefully going to be a truly successful day, with the RL fans being encouraged to stay and watch Avenue after their game is over and Avenue fans being allowed to indulge their fondness for rugby league by arriving early.

Until then, let’s get behind the lads and win three more points.