Lines predicts big changes ahead for non-league football

Chairman Phil Lines believes the current issues facing football could change the non-league game for the  better in the long-term.

By Steve Smith
Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 3:05 pm
Updated Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 3:06 pm
The Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium locked up to everyone
The Banbury Plant Hire Community Stadium locked up to everyone

All BetVictor Southern League games have been postponed until the end of April and it is uncertain whether it will resume.

That means many clubs will face financial problems with players on contracts and other outgoings. But Lines said Banbury United are not in that position.

Lines said: “I’ve told some Board members that when this is all over non-league football might be in a better place for the future. Players may have to lower their wage demands on clubs and that would help every club.

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“Most clubs are sensible with their budget, like ours, but some pay out too much and they’re the ones who were panicking as soon as the first games were postponed. Too many clubs live hand-to-mouth, week-to-week.

“When I was playing for Banbury United the attendances were much bigger than today but the wages were smaller by comparison. Now it’s a fine balance between staying within a sensible budget and having to pay out a bit more to try and win more games.”

But the Puritans still face a big challenge, on and off the field, to overcome this latest setback. However, Lines is confident everything is in place to cope with the situation.

He said: “As well as no matches, our full diary of functions and football bookings are cancelled and we are unable to deliver our increasingly busy United in the Community programme. Our Lottery will face challenges with a reduced number of outlets for it remaining open.

“The lottery also supports the Keep the Horton General campaign and if ever there was a time to highlight the need for an NHS hospital providing a full range of services in the town it is now.

“We know we are not alone among football clubs who will face a huge test of their resources. Board members, supporters, players and management change over the years but at any time those involved are the custodians of the club and primarily need to ensure that there is a club for others in the future.

“If we all pull together at this time we can keep our great club going and in the coming days we will reach out to supporters with ways that they might be able to assist us achieve this.

“We have no idea when we can expect ‘normality’ and activities such as football to restart. When we can open the gates again we need to ensure we have a club that is able to continue to thrive.”