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The Weekly Non League Column

1 week ago By Jeff Barnes

This week’s NLP programme column below.

Ever met someone who seems to have it all go their own way in life?

No stress. All upside to their day from the moment they wake up. A happy wanderer walking down the street humming a jovial tune because life is just grand.

Then there are the rest of us – the people who drive Vauxhalls.

You can relate this to football with the Premier League and the FA.

The Premier League in its goliath standing is only getting richer and extending its outreach across the seas.

The league’s own community initiatives aided by mega-rich clubs who have their own programmes to help those disadvantaged, and I have no intention of making any negative suggestion towards that.

But the Premier League can do so much more for football in this country, we all know it. Yet there is no obligation.

All the obligation falls on the Football Association.

Their workload is a juggernaut-sized headache with topics ranging from doping tests to investigating cases of ineligible players being played by clubs.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore has so much freedom to act under as a result of his and his team’s own hard work, that there is a monopoly over what can be done next.

With a 2019-2022 domestic TV rights deal to be settled this year, the Premier League has announced it is seeking the introduction of a winter break.

Let’s just see who wins the tug-of-war with the FA and the EFL almost certain to object given their Cup competitions.

A Premier League statement confirmed: "The Premier League has been in discussions with the FA and EFL for several months regarding the challenges of the increasingly congested English football calendar and ways in which we can work together to ease fixture congestion while also giving players a mid-season break."

So what for the Non-League pyramid as the Premier League sets its sights on an improved deal from Sky Sports and BT Sport?

Should a European-style winter break come from the deal, all Non-League clubs would have 21 days to attract fans through the turnstiles to watch our own brand of football.

Some people may not appreciate this notion but just because you support a Premier League or a Championship club does not mean you cannot appreciate watching a game along with 250 others rather than 25,000.

Being a Leyton Orient fan I frequently overhear regular supporters sat around me talking to a friend they have brought along who may follow Arsenal or Spurs and there is a genuine interest in talking about the O’s.

I’ve heard plenty of talk about disgruntled Sunderland fans taking in the goal fests often served up by South Shields this season, so it’s encouraging to see the club’s stadium developments be utilised.

Let’s not pretend that the role of the Non-League pyramid hasn’t helped clubs develop their youngsters and give purpose to their academies. And furthermore the cases of Sam Clucas, Chris Smalling et al are success stories to be championed.

In recent years I’ve been to Sydney and Cape Town and I have seen enough replica shirts from England’s top league to know Richard Scudamore doesn’t have to worry about a loss in profit anytime within the next 20 years.

So can’t more be done to assist more clubs with the basic necessities of acquiring defibrillators and other essentials?

Adam Ellis

Updated 20:17 - 6 Feb 2018 by Jeff Barnes

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