“There’s no reason why the game can’t continue,” says ex-Brighouse boss Quinn as grassroots football is kicked into the long grass again
Former Brighouse Town manager and current Tadcaster Albion boss Paul Quinn says the postponement of grassroots football threatens the existence of some clubs.
Quinn has written to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden MP, expressing his concerns for the impact on grassroots football of the sport being stopped at non-elite level during the second lockdown.
Quinn runs an academy at Beech Hill School on Mondays, and is a former Liversedge player and Ossett United assistant manager.
“I feel like we need to be on the front-foot in terms of beating the drum about why the game should continue at all levels,” he said.
“For me, there’s no reason why the game can’t continue at elite and grassroots level, there’s no evidence I’ve seen or that’s been made available that the game has contributed to increased transmissions or increased fatalities.
“We’re working with people not in the vulnerable category, we’re outdoors.
“The mental and physical well-being of all participants in the game as important as anything else that’s going on.”
Quinn says the response to his letter has been “brilliant”.
“We’ve got over 200 clubs from across the country that have signed the letter, which is tens of thousands of participants from those clubs.
“Hopefully we can get more clubs and organisations involved.
“I’m fed up of hearing ‘we’re going to wait for advice’. The people who are in the know are at the coal face, doing sessions and leading training week-in, week-out.
“Those are the people who know what’s going on. We shouldn’t be waiting for advice from people who aren’t on the ground level.
“I’ve got a nine-year-old lad and I’ve got no hesitation whatsoever sending him to a grassroots session every week from now until the situation’s under control.”
When asked about the consequences if non-elite football is not allowed to resume during lockdown, Quinn said: “Particularly in non-league, I think clubs would go under, that’s the top and bottom of it.
“I fear for when grassroots clubs at junior level would be able to restart.
“My so thrives when he’s out doing things and being physically active, not sat at home doing nothing.
“We’ve got a responsibility to young people in society to ensure these things can go ahead and mitigate the risk.
“I’m not saying the situation isn’t bad or football is immune to it, but there’s no evidence I’m aware of that says football’s causing a wider issue in terms of transmission.”
Brighouse chairman James Howard agrees with Quinn, and estimates the club will lose around £25,000 as a result of the lockdown.
He said: “We as a club have contributed to Paul’s letter.”It’s disappointing. A lot of clubs, including ourselves, have put some very good measures in place to remain compliant and safeguarding staff, players and fans.
“Football at our level has a lot of standing areas.
“It feels like we’re being penalised again. I’m no scientist, we’re aware the numbers are increasing, but we haven’t had one positive case out of the club or been contacted by track and trace.
“Calderdale Council visited us on Saturday and they were very impressed with what we were doing to safeguard everybody.
“We can’t play behind-closed-doors because of the costs involved, we rely on fans coming through the gate, we rely on food, beverage and merchandise sales, we rely on ticket sales and this is going to put the club back where we were in March and April, with no income.
“It’s difficult, it’s frustrating, it’s hard, but we will support whatever decision has been made.”
Howard added: “We had three home games in November, which is big income we’re going to lose.
“We do very well on the sponsorship front, sales, food and beverage.
“We have no choice but to absorb that loss, it just goes into the profits we’ve made in the previous months.
“All the profit we made playing with fans again will be eradicated.
“I think it will affect clubs, Droylsden have resigned from the league due to the impact of Covid.
“Sunday and Saturday League teams don’t pay players or have the expenses we do, so they might be OK.
“But at our level it’s going to impact a lot of clubs.
“We’ve got half-a-dozen players on contract that we still need to pay. It’s just a real shame but hopefully it won’t be longer than the 30 days and we can get back to playing again.” Liversedge manager Jonathan Rimmington also agrees with Quinn that grassroots football should continue.
“I think we should play on, for mental health as much as anything,” he said. “We don’t want it to stop.
“It’s a difficult one because everyone wants to stay safe.
“Would we be allowed fans in? I don’t think we would.
“We had 300 fans in on Saturday and I think that’s too many at the moment.
“Maybe cut it down to 150 because people still congregate, they don’t go all the way round the ground.
“But the mental health side of it is massive, not getting out, staying in on dark winter nights.”
Rimmington feels another halt to grassroots football will pile even more pressure on grassroots clubs.
“Our chairman has told all the players they’ll still get paid,” he said.
“The problem is other clubs at our level. We kicked off early at Penistone two weeks ago so we could have a drink in their bar - we probably spent £100.
“It’s their income. Some clubs without their bar sales, and without fans in, will struggle because that’s their bread and butter.
“We probably took £5,000 on Saturday.”