It has been an argument that has rumbled on for a while now in every league across the Non-league board should clubs play in the leagues cup competitions or should they drop out of them in order to concentrate on the league and FA competitions (Cups, Trophy or Vase).
The first reason why clubs and their fans think the league cup competitions are not needed is that the already eat into the fixture list. With the Northern and Southern Premier Leagues being expanded there isn’t enough weeks to fit in the extra cup games.
From the 2013-2014 season there will be 24 teams in the leagues not 22 and will mean and extra four games to fit in to an already busy schedule also with the recent weather being varied and having snow right across the opening Three months of 2013 not much time will be available. It also caused some teams, who forced to be way behind in their fixtures due to no fault of apart from being rather successful in the cup.
For example, Bridgwater Town in the Southern League division South and West had to re-arrange a total of 29 fixtures due to a cup run as well as waterlogged pitches last season. It meant they had a total of 10 games in hand on the teams near them in the division meaning they had an unfair disadvantage then other teams due to the others being able to rest players and allow recovery time from injuries.
Another reason is that the turn out for the League cups is considerably less then what a league game could pull in.
A team in the Northern Premier League Premier Division could quite easily attract a crowd of 400 for a Saturday Match day but when it comes to the League Cup (or even their county cup) it could dip into the 100 mark, which must be a bit demoralizing for players playing in front of crowds less then a 100 when they could easily get over double that for a normal league game.
Despite reducing admission prices say to £5 adults and £3 concessions- clubs are still making a loss because of these poor attendances. Also the staff needed to be paid as well as players and the officials as well as Lighting and Gas. It all soon adds up and when clubs aren’t making much on the gate they are not able to pay their bills.
Also teams are no so worried about their star player picking up an injury and ruling them out for the rest of the season they are playing weakened teams which mean you are paying £5 or more to effectively watch a reserve team play. When many clubs do have one and admission to watch them is at a lot less price.
In defense of the leagues still allowing the competitions to take place, that have to, as it is part of the sponsorship rights. Companies pay good money for their name to be associated with the league.
The name sponsoring the League cup competition is generally big business for the league and so they will want to continue the League cups running to bring in the extra revenue and sponsorship.
The Southern Premier League is starting to take notice of what fans and clubs are saying and are allowing clubs to opt out of the Red Insure (Southern League) Cup competition. After a motion was passed at the recent AGM.
One team in this Division Stourbridge FC, based 15 miles away from Birmingham, has decided to opt out of the competition for this season.
The following statement was posted on their website this evening:
“At the recent League AGM in Torquay, a motion was passed to allow member clubs to opt out of the League Cup competition in 2013/14.
The club has since decided to withdraw from the cup competition for the forthcoming season due to the increase in the number of teams in the Premier Division in 2013/14 meaning that clubs will play 4 extra league fixtures.
In addition, the associated costs of the competition were taken in consideration, while the club’s geographical position within the current make-up of the Southern League with regards to midweek travel was also taken into account since many of the Midlands based clubs from previous seasons are now competing in different leagues.”
Maybe it was the right idea by the league to allow the opt out of the competitions. Some clubs will be unhappy at this idea, as it is part of league so you have to enter it but for a team like Stourbridge, who could be drawn up against a team like AFC Totten- all the way in Southampton.
Will more leagues follow in the SPL idea? It will only be a matter of time but it is surely one that leagues may consider in the near future as the attendances falls and teams are more and more starting to play weakened teams in the competition to save their stars for the crucial league fixtures. For me personally I am not too fussed if these competitions existed as I am someone who just wants to go an watch games no matter what competition they are in or if it just a friendly with another team.