The Bucks Herald’s campaign to Make Football more Affordable has been backed by a man who knows the local game inside out and has a foot in both the Saturday and Sunday league camps.
Marc Thoday not only plays football locally but is also the secretary of the Aylesbury and District League and the Sunday Combination.
We kicked our campaign off with the strident views of passionate local footballer and coach Stevan Wilson who said Aylesbury Vale District Council was pricing people out of a ‘dying’ grassroots game.
AVDC has since defended its pricing policy insisting clubs must do better financial planning.
Now Thoday, who also helps run local team FC Unique, has added his voice to the debate and says the county FA must do more to help clubs while he dreams of a grant to allow a football hub to be built in the town.
He said: “FC Unique is now probably the oldest SLN cluband this will be our 10th year since inception.
“We ran out of money twice in the first couple of year and then again three years ago but these were mainly due to a small squad.
“The team has been rebuilt on a few occasions and the foundations have been built upon little outside help, no sponsorship except for two kits over the years.
“One real problem is non-payers. You need a really organised and on the ball club secretary – the mug who has to collect the money and look after kit – and sadly this is now often a player himself.
“There are few older men who just manage teams. Thus I believe there is a lack of respect in local football in general for what some do to set up a team and keep it going financially.
“This is where the grass roots has an issue. Too many scoundrels refusing to pay, making excuses and if you need players due to hangovers Sunday mornings then you kind of give them a chance, then suddenly it is £15 plus owed and you are on a hiding to nothing to getting it back.
“It is not the club’s fault or the secretary but it is these and the players who do pay up who suffer. The non-payer just signs for another club the next year and potentially gets away with it. The ADL and SLN are trying to crack down on it but its difficult.
“I believe the county FA should help clubs not players. Without the clubs, ie the secretaries, there would be no teams for players to join, and thus no league. It is a vicious circle.”
So what does Thoday propose to help solve the problems facing the grassroots game?
“We need a grant to buy some land that has 10 pitches on it with 20 rooms for home, away and then a large room for the refs.
“If I had the money and land was going I would! Its like the car boot fields, £10 for every seller and £1 for every buyer – they quickly make money back!”