I have watched with some interest over the past few weeks to see how some of the amateur leagues are using the excess cash they have in their accounts and how they put it to good use.
To my knowledge and from what I have read online, the Sunday Central seem to have set the bar with regards to giving back to clubs, and they have been doing this for a number of years now. Starting off with a cash back offer to clubs returning to the league at the start of each season they are now offering teams the great incentive of no league fees. The Caledonian and Strathclyde Saturday Morning Leagues have now followed suit and recently advertised their own incentives with the Cale paying all SAFA fees including cups and public liability insurance and also providing each club with a match ball. The SSMFL are also paying a cash back sum of money to all returning clubs. This is an outstanding gesture from all three leagues. There may be more out there of whom I have no knowledge and if I have missed your league then I must apologise.
Every year the financial implications and the struggle for funding increases for every club in Scotland. It is becoming harder for amateur Managers and committees to provide a platform for young men to play football. With park fees for games and training sessions spiralling out of control we are risking the danger of losing lots more historic clubs who can no longer afford to function. The amount of teams who have folded recently has been frightening! These incentives by the leagues can be the difference between a club managing to continue playing or go to the wall. It has certainly put pressure on other associations to follow suit. Either that or lose teams who will go to the league with the best options for them.
Ultimately the fees that we pay are dictated in one way or another by the SAFA. I could be well off the mark here but the last information I was given was that the SAFA had a figure in the region of £300,000 in the bank and that this amount was being added to each season. Maybe someone more in the know than me can either confirm or deny this but if this is the case then the question must be asked of what are we actually going to spend this money on and when are we going to spend it?
The return of the Inter League Competition was in my opinion a great idea for amateur football and has rejuvenated the idea of league select teams, but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels on that one. There are hundreds of ways we could put all of that excess cash (that belongs to us) to good use. Personally I would like to see some sort of cup that would involve the league winners from every association, possibly in a Champions League format. There is also the idea of an SAFA custom built footballing facility that could be used for all of our major matches. Even the little things like a couple of match balls, a reduction in affiliation fees, session planners, tactics boards, bibs, regular coaching education weekends or prize money for successful teams would go a long way to bridge the gap between the SAFA and the clubs and it would certainly make amateur football more attractive for players to come to us.
Running a football team isn’t only about money of course, but it does play a huge part in how we operate. A quick rough breakdown of our outlay shows what we are up against
Home match – £60-£70 for a grass park or £100+ for a 3G or 4G
Training session – £45+ per session
Referee – £40
Match ball – (2 required) £50+
Strips – (2 sets) £600+
Training balls – £150
Bibs, cones water bottles – £60+
Medical equipment – £30+
Insurance – £130
Fees – £250+
Fines – dependant on booking and red cards
There are various other things that will need paid during the course of the season but on average a club will have to pay out £200 per week assuming they train two nights a week. If you charge each player £10 a week in a squad of 20 then you may break even but as we all know you don’t always get these numbers and you cant charge players money who aren’t picked for games. Sometimes it is a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul to keep your club afloat and I’m sure I’m not the only Manager out there who has had to put his hand into his own pocket to pay for a training session on a cold winters night when only 9 players turn up!
As I have said I am willing to stand corrected on the figure of £300,000 I have quoted but in the event that I am right then I look forward to a healthy debate on what we can do with all this spare cash.
Help the clubs!