Last month a football club announced it was heading into voluntary liquidation. It probably escaped your notice because it happened way down the footballing pyramid at Step 4, a few promotions away from the Football League.
Thamesmead Town, following years of struggle against landlords not sympathetic to the footballing world they operated in, ceased to operate and resigned from the Bostik League forthwith, although later developments suggest the club might survive by the skin of its teeth but proved to be a false dawn.
For non-league football followers, this is nothing new seeing a club, their club go to the wall. Some come from mismanagement across the years, some chasing the dream, others struggling to stay alive from one season to the next as money just isn’t there to keep clubs afloat.
The future for Town looked extremely promising and prosperous back in July 2013 when a brand new complex ready for community use and to propel the club forward with facilities to allow them to compete with others at their level.
But after major disagreements with their landlords, Trust Thamesmead, Town moved out of Bayliss Avenue and into Princes Park at Dartford, a move which of course meant lower incomes for the club and less fans travelling to watch the team in action.
Whilst most chairman at this level and below have little option but to finance the club to make it survive, there has to come a point and it can’t be far away where more clubs will cease to exist due to the lack of money into the lower levels of football.
With the Wembley Stadium sale currently off the agenda, money that was expected to come from this to go to grassroots football will not materialise in the short term and although clubs wouldn’t experience a shortfall as such, there would be less to help clubs survive.
It’s been seen already in the case of Dulwich Hamlet how landlords’ actions can have a galvanising effect on supporters and club officials to stick together during difficult times and to also gain support from clubs around the country and even the world.
Many would argue that even at these low levels of the game players wages are higher than they should be, and money should be spent on improving facilities and the club for those supporters who will be there long after the latest hot shot has upped and left.
But increasingly in this day and age, only by spending more can every club compete with the other 20 or so in their division, without it the game is becoming harder to achieve success on a ‘shoestring budget’ and that lack of budget only goes so far, the higher up the pyramid you go.
Thamesmead aren’t the first club to move out of their home and not return and pretty sure they won’t be the last ones either, but something has to give moneywise within the game or the perfect pyramid could collapse at any point.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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