MP Jonathan Reynolds has highlighted the growing need to support non-league football clubs, in a parliamentary debate to coincide with national Non-League Day.
The Stalybridge and Hyde MP pointed to the important community role played by Hyde FC, Stalybridge Celtic and Mossley FC.
And he said there was a need to address the increasing financial gulf between the Premier League giants and those clubs in the lower leagues to safeguard their survival.
“Unsurprisingly, money is a real cause for concern at that level, with many clubs constantly struggling to survive,” said Mr Reynolds.
”. . . Given that we have just seen a transfer window where in excess of £800 million was spent, it is fair to say that non-league clubs feel forgotten, that the money does not trickle down to the grass roots of the game, and that those at the top all too often come across as being too focused on themselves.
“That was no more apparent than in the ludicrous proposals for the A and B teams of premier league clubs to play in the lower leagues—something that would kill non-league football.”
He contrasted the high wages paid to Premier League footballers, with non-league clubs that struggle to survive and rely on an army of volunteers.
Mr Reynolds also called for greater attention to be paid to the travel costs incurred for aspiring non-league clubs to meet their fixture commitments.
“Travelling to mid-week matches on the other side of the country can be a logistical and financial nightmare for semi-professional teams; greater consideration is needed,” said Mr Reynolds.
“Travelling distances can also hinder clubs’ progression, as the costs involved put them off taking promotion, even if they have earned it, as often happens in the northern league.
Mr Reynolds said he was proud that the Stalybridge and Hyde constituency was home to the three non-league clubs – praising their contributions on the pitch and in the community.
He said: “Non-league football may not be seen as the glamorous end of football, but it is real football, it is the grass roots and it keeps the game alive. Without it, football would lose its soul.”
The debate was held in the House of Commons Chamber on September 4, 2014.