The Value of Non-League Football to the local community

What a disgrace that Richard Sudamore the departing Premier League Executive Chairman is to receive a £5 million pound golden hand shake from the Premier League Clubs. What would that amount of money do for non-league and grass roots football at a time when most clubs and organisations struggle to pay their way, writes Bridlington Town Chairman Pete Smurthwaite.

The good thing is that our level of football is not about money, it’s about involving your local community by giving them an alternative to having to pay large sums of money to travel and watch their local professional club.

People can feel part of their club and have pride in helping out or watching their team at non-league and grass roots football.

It brought it home to me last Saturday when one of our young fans decided he wanted to eat his chips and mushy peas whilst sitting in the “Directors Box” a few seats from myself, which greatly amused myself and Mark White sat behind me who despite his disability loves coming along with his dog to sit with the Chairman and watch his favourite team in safe and friendly surroundings.

The young boy proudly wearing his Bridlington Town replica shirt under his coat and with a smile on his face. Money can’t buy that feeling that what we are giving is so important to the local community and makes the effort to run a decent club all the more worthwhile.

As well as our First Team we also have a reserve team in the local Humber League, a third team in the local County League and an Under 13s team in the Sunday Boys League. These teams are run by local people who volunteer to give up their time to allow local players to enjoy being involved with their local club. Some of that £5million pounds would allow us to build another pitch at a different site to accommodate them all and also improve the facilities at our stadium where two of these teams play.

We are lucky that a lot of the cost of running this club comes from sponsors most of which are local who kindly donate money and help the club and I would like to thank the following organisations:

– Bridlington Shellfish Co Ltd
– Neil Hudgell Solicitors
– Lloyd Dowson Accountants
– Humberside Excavations Ltd
– North East Aggregates Ltd
– GP Shipping
– Newton Printers

This season we have had the most Match Day sponsors than ever before with nearly every home match sponsored and I would like to thank the following groups:

– Royal British Legion Bridlington Branch
– FC Lodge
– The Telegraph
– The Ship Inn
– Paul Prime
– Mooneys Men
– The Design Formula
– Lee Harper and Friends
– Bridlington Cricket Club
– James Ringrose and Friends
– Graham Dowson and Friends
– Biomass Projects UK
– Ship Inn – Sewerby
– Relay Port Agency
– Andy Ripley and Friends
– Simon Tibbett
– The Star Inn
– Andy Thorley and Friends

As you can see a real community effort by everyone, we also get help from Supporter Trust and the Onward Fund and the local businesses who have pitch side advertising boards and adverts in our programme.

So when the Premier League Clubs say “Stuff You” whilst swimming in their billions we have that nice feeling that our efforts are appreciated and the local community want to help and support us for the benefit of everyone who loves football in our local community.

That young lad who came and sat in the “Directors Box” will always remember how well he was greeted and was not asked by some steward where his parents where with his pass and how happy and safe he was eating his chips and mushy peas and watching his favourite players entertain him without being paid millions of pounds to represent their local club.

Peter Smurthwaite
Chairman – Bridlington Town AFC

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