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The challenges facing the Welsh Premier League

Tucked away at the back of The Non-League Paper one can find brief reports for the Welsh Premier League (WPL).   The league is currently headed by The New Saints, the only full-time professional club in the league.   They play in Oswestry and their full name is The New Saints of Oswestry Town & Llansantffraid Football Club (Clwb PĂȘl-droed y Seintiau Newydd).  

What can be done about rogue owners?

The problem of rogue owners at clubs like Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Charlton Athletic and Leeds United persists.   There is no easy solution, although some ideas have been put forward and are discussed below.

During the past week a lot of the focus has been on Blackburn Rovers where there was a well-attended meeting called by two fan groups last Thursday.   In November 2010, when the Indian conglomerate Venky's, took over Blackburn were a stable, well-run Premier League club that had won the title under Jack Walker's benevolent ownership in 1995.

Fans give new trophy the thumbs down

The successor to the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, the Checkatrade Trophy, has not gone down well with fans and they voted with their feet last night in the first group stage games.  There were plenty of three figure attendances and anonymous Premier League teams full of youth players.

Most of the top Premier League clubs including the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal and Liverpool refused to take part.   Those that did take part fielded little known players and often did not fill their substitutes bench.  The lowest shirt number in Everton's 15-man squad was 41.

New troubles at Plymouth Argyle?

It is five years since Plymouth Argyle were rescued from oblivion and the excellent 'two unfortunates' blog take a look at the current, rather complex and worrying situation.  

Derbies bring in the crowds

The ability of local derbies to attract big crowds is shown in the attendance figures for the National League and its north and south divisions for the 2015-16 seasons.

The biggest crowd in the National League was for the Lincolnshire derby between Grimsby and Lincoln (7.650).  This was followed by Tranmere Rovers versus Chester (7.433) and Wrexham versus Tranmere Rovers (6,707).

National League sets ambitious targets

The National Leage has set itself some ambitous targets in a new four year strategy entitled 'Growing our Game' covering the period 2016 to 2020.

It wants to increase annual attendances from 1.5m to 1.7m.  It wants live broadcast matches to go up from 25 to 40 per seaon and to increase commercial revenues by 50 per cent.   The target for social media following is an increase from 750,000 to 1 million.

Blackout rule under threat

Concern is being expressed about the possible removal of the 3pm broadcast blackout rule.   It is argued that it would reduce attendances at lower league and non-league clubs.

Such clubs consider that when they are up against midweek televised matches, attendances decrease. Of course, there are other factors involved such as work commitments and the lack of incentive to come out on a cold, dark night to a draughty ground.

How local is a team's support?

Perhaps not surprisingly, a YouGov analysis of the profiles of over 37,000 football fans has found that Liverpool and Manchester United have the least local support of any Premiership teams.   However, it is surprising that only 29 per cent of their support came from the whole of the north-west.

Financial fair play ban for Cardiff City

A transfer embargo has been imposed on Cardiff City for breaching financial fair play rules.   The club is considering an appeal.  They join Bolton Wanderers, Fulham and Nottingham Forest who have been similarly penalised.

The Bluebirds' finances have not been helped this season by many fans voting with their feet and choosing not to watch the team. Last weekend they crashed out of the FA Cup at the hands of lower league Shrewsbury.

Gate money declines in importance

Gate money was once a strong determinant of finishing position, but although they are well supported, Aston Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle United are all in danger of relegation.  Bournemouth, whose attendances are limited by stadium capacity, could well survive.