Leader of South Tyneside Council backs calls for South Shields FC to be given financial support
Councillor Iain Malcolm has written to Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden urging the financial support to National League clubs be extended to clubs like South Shields.
It comes after the club last week joined forces with FC United of Manchester and Scarborough Athletic to express fears over 'their very futures' without additional support. They state the new restrictions, as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, are ‘are in danger of forcing us out of existence’.
The three Northern Premier League clubs operate at step 3 of the Non-League System, the highest level designated as ‘grassroots’ under current Covid regulations, meaning they are permitted limited crowds but that is still 1,300 fans fewer than their average gate last season.
New restrictions have also hit their food and beverage revenue.
They are not eligible for the recent Government funding support announced to help National League clubs, however, and stress a ‘one size fits all approach’ doesn’t take into account that there are a handful of clubs caught between a ‘now subsidised elite and the grassroots restrictions which are in danger of forcing us out of existence.’
Coun Malcolm has now added his voice to the calls for more support.
He wrote: “The fight against Coronavirus is an immediate threat to the lives of our communities but the impact on our communities will be even greater in the long-term if local businesses like South Shields FC do not get the support that they need and deserve.
"I am therefore requesting that you consider extending the financial support on offer to them and other clubs who find themselves in similar circumstances.
“Additionally, I would like to request that your department works with the FA and the professional game to agree a further package of support for other non-league clubs, such as Hebburn Town FC, who need assistance at this very difficult time.”
The letter from the club was signed by Geoff Thompson, chairman of South Shields FC and also Emma Lewell-Buck, MP for South Shields.
You can read the letter from the leader of South Tyneside Council below:
Dear Secretary of State
Re: South Shields Football Club
I am writing to you today on behalf of South Shields FC who operate at step 3 of the Non-League System and have written to you to request that the financial support being offered to National League Clubs is extended to clubs like theirs.
The importance of football to our communities here in South Tyneside should not be underestimated. South Shields FC, and our other local clubs such as Hebburn Town FC, are at the heart of their communities and that is reflected in the great support they attract to their matches.
In the past few seasons South Shields FC has seen spectator numbers average above 1,500 which is above many of the teams that operate in the National League who are likely to receive financial support. The club is well run and has the ambition to grow. In 2017 the club took 13,000 supporters to Wembley to see them lift the FA Vase which is an indication of the local support which they can call on in their ambition to move up the football pyramid system.
On top of their successful senior side South Shields FC also provide numerous youngsters with educational and sporting opportunities as well as wide-ranging community projects. The club has also provided vital support to the most vulnerable members of our community during the current COVID crisis.
As you will be aware South Tyneside is an area at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus and I wrote to Matt Hancock recently, along with the Leaders of neighbouring North East authorities, to ask for additional powers and more importantly extra resources to support our communities at this time of crisis.
The fight against Coronavirus is an immediate threat to the lives of our communities but the impact on our communities will be even greater in the long-term if local businesses like South Shields FC do not get the support that they need and deserve. I am therefore requesting that you consider extending the financial support on offer to them and other clubs who find themselves in similar circumstances.
Additionally, I would like to request that your department works with the FA and the professional game to agree a further package of support for other non-league clubs, such as Hebburn Town FC, who need assistance at this very difficult time.
If you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Councillor Iain Malcolm
Leader of the Council