Day: November 16, 2011

If They’re Going To Cover Non-League Football, The Media Has To Get It Right

The First Round Proper of the FA Cup came and went with some criticism of the quality offered by the mainstream media of the non-league game. Mike Bayly was unsatisfied with the cliche and factual inaccuracy that the press offered in attempting to get to grips with the semi-professional game. Coverage of non-league teams in the season’s FA Cup qualifying rounds may have broken new boundaries, but where the FA Cup First Round is concerned, old habits die hard. Despite an unprecedented level of information available on the internet and public record, the same shibboleths, stereotypes and inaccuracies have been trotted out in an age where obscurity appears to be a caveat for ignorance. This long standing problem appears to be wrapped up in the media’s desire to associate non-league football with consistently pejorative labels. Commentators have a disquieting habit of playing up to the “everyman” notion of non-league football in order to give the occasion unnecessary credence. Unfortunately, they remain selective in their observations, with proletarian imagery the order of the day; a shot, pass or tackle is rarely executed without at least one fleeting reference to the painters, decorators and builders who supposedly define the fabric of our semi-professional game. Whilst there is a statistical inevitability about this – and chances are many Premier League players would be plying their trade with a Black and Decker work...

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The Texas Lower Division Shuffle: And You Will Know Us By the Trail of the Debt

Lower division football in the United States of America has been going through some difficulties of late, with some difficulties that will sound familiar to some of our British readers. Elliott Turner reports on the peculiar case of the RGV Grandes. What if we could create a Frankenstein football league that patched together the worst parts of English and American sports? First, the teams would be owned by wealthy individuals, not the community. Second, the teams would be franchises and able to disappear or relocate, like in America. Third, the corporate entity would be so convoluted that nobody would know the true owners or responsible entities. Fourth, and finally, toss in a hobbled Igor of a league with no salary cap or teeth behind regulations. Sound far-fetched? Terrifying? Or both? Sadly, this Frankenstein stalks the world in real life. He is United States lower division football. And the story of football in South Texas offers an example of how everything that can go wrong will go wrong.  When talking about lower divisions, the immediate question is not which team, but which division of the division. No, not 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, but rather which 2nd division? That’s right – in 2009, the United Soccer League (USL) First Division experienced a change in ownership, Nike sold its share to a mysterious Georgia based corporation instead of the Teams Owners’ Association,...

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Is History Repeating Itself At Nene Park?

We are only three months into the new season, but already it feels as if history is beginning to repeat itself. In July, the county of Northamptonshire lost Rushden & Diamonds after a season of spectacular mismanagement – a new club, AFC Rushden & Diamonds, has already started a youth team and is expected to begin again from the start of next season – and this time around there is now a sizeable body evidence which indicates that the club that took over their Nene Park home during the summer, Kettering Town, could well be set to follow them into serious difficulties. Kettering were due to be entering brave new world territory with their move to a ground eight miles from their home town, but the team has been struggling on the pitch and rumours are now beginning to grow of serious difficulties off the pitch as well. It wasn’t, of course, supposed to be like this. With 1,000 season tickets sold, supporters of the club had reason to believe that growth and success off the pitch would be the compensation for leaving its traditional Rockingham Road ground and into the home of their former rivals, under a twenty-five year lease. Rumours started to grow over the weekend that the club’s players had only been paid a percentage of their month’s wages and, with several of the club’s players...

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