Increase in attendance and participation after lockdown
While all the world is changing due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the sporting world is also feeling the effects.
There is no live sport, no group training, children can't play out with their mates, and it makes us appreciate more what we are missing. The world won't go back to "normal" (whatever that is) when this is all over, but we believe that the lower levels of English sport will bounce back, teams will see an influx of new junior players, people wanting to do more with their weekends will start to attend their local sports games to get out and enjoy having their freedom back and a new wave of fans will stand on the side lines.
We have seen some PR disasters from Premier League teams with regards to furloughing staff, players pay cuts and financial complaints which we believe will further distance true football fans and they will look elsewhere for their live sport fix, and what better place than their local non-league team.
Gary Neville has helped the cause of one team, Brighouse Town in the BetVictor Northern Premier League by donating an undisclosed amount to help towards the running of the club after forming an "emotional bond" with the club following a fixture a few years ago between Brighouse and Salford.
Its gestures like this that bring the plight of lower league sports teams right in to the public eye, and makes fans think about how they can help out too, whether that’s a cash donation, and offer of volunteering, or just attending the next home game (whenever that will be).
This also highlights the sense of family in the lower leagues that has long disappeared from the sterile topflight, don’t get me wrong I still enjoy watching Premier League football, and I am a lifelong Chelsea Fan, working here alongside a Sunderland Fan and a Leeds United Fan (not physically alongside at the moment) and at the same time I am a season ticket holder at Bradford Park Avenue. Having experienced the atmosphere of the big stadiums and the amazing volume of noise generated, there is something missing that you don’t get from a visit to a non-league ground, the familiar faces, the feeling of belonging to something, and even when your team is 12 points from safety with a -55 goal difference you still live by the mantra “never stop believing”.
This is why we think that once we are allowed back out and the seasons resume, restart or start a fresh there will be an increase in spectators wanting to get that feeling back.
As for participation, 6 weeks or more of being stuck in home working out to Joe Wicks, or watching Wayne Godwin doing fun and inspiring Rugby drills in his back garden, all ages will want to be out there utilising this new fitness regime or working off the snacks and barbeques, socialising with like-minded people and enjoying being out again doing what they love.