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Premier League must help us with friendlies – Darts boss Steve King

Premier League

Premier League clubs should send strong teams for friendlies to help Non-League clubs

Dartford manager Steve King’s latest NLP column

Premier League clubs have simply got to help Non-League football.

The subject came up the other night on Question Time. The Premier League have money in the bank. Big money. But so far there has been no help at all.

They need to do their bit. We can reel off the players playing in the Premier League and Championship who have come through Non-League football. It’s important the bigger clubs help their local teams.

So when it is safe to have crowds in to watch our games, how good would it be if the top clubs helped Non-League get some cash through the turnstiles?

They won’t be able to jet off on their usual pre-season tours because of the Covid pandemic. Instead, they should send first teams to their local clubs where it will really make a difference.

Imagine all the Premier League clubs doing that. Those games are sell-outs for clubs and will go a long way to bringing in lost revenue. It’s no exaggeration to say it could save clubs.You look at Arsenal, they send a full strength side to Boreham Wood every pre-season and it sets them up nicely

I’ve been fortunate in my time to have some really good friendlies against some big clubs. We had Arsenal with the likes of Jack Wilshere playing at Lewes back in the day. Chelsea came down when I was at Farnborough. It was a young side but still probably £100m worth of players on the pitch!

It’s brilliant for the Non-League players because they get to go up against the Premier League stars they see on TV.

And they are competitive games. Gone are the days of them being complete rollovers. The pitches are in great condition too. It’s win-win for everyone. Why not put back into the game?

They say a week is a long time in football. Well, that’s definitely the case these days!

This time last week I was pretty much resigned to the fact the play-offs in the National League South wouldn’t be taking place. Now that view has slightly changed.

We know the League Two clubs voted 20-4 in favour of no relegation out of their division even though it looks like they want promotion. You can imagine the League One clubs will be saying, ‘Hold on, you still want us to relegate, why don’t you!?’

That threw all of us in the three National League divisions because if there is no relegation out of League Two then that would raise question marks about our own promotion hopes.

Now the EFL have announced they see promotion and relegation as integral to the integrity of the Pyramid.

So if it’s possible that two National League teams can go up into the Football League – one automatically and one via play-offs – that Could have a knock-on effect for us at Step 2?

The National League have already indicated they will treat all three of their divisions in the same manner. Does that mean, if they happen in the National League, that our play-offs can happen too? I certainly feel more optimistic than I did.

This has given us all some fresh hope. We all know the National League’s final decision is based on what happens in the EFL. That’s a fact.

Of course, there are lots of hurdles to jump over before play-off games can be staged. There are questions that need to be answered when it comes to testing and when will those test be available to us?

But we will take that in our stride. I really feel the National League should now follow suit. If there are play-offs in the EFL, there is no reason why we can’t have them in our leagues – however far that is down the line. At least if we plan for playing them then we can have something to work towards.

We’ve waited this long to get a decision and we still haven’t had one. There would be no point waiting this long if the play-offs at our level end up being scrapped. Of course it’s been a strange time for all of us. At the beginning of lockdown all of the National League South managers were constantly talking trying to work out what we thought might happen.

I have had conversations with Jerry Gill at Bath City, Mark Molesley, Weymouth, in recent weeks and in the last few days I’ve caught up with Neil Baker at Slough and Dorking’s Marc White.

We’re all in the same boat. One minute we were all going for promotion and suddenly we were stopped in our tracks. But perhaps there is now a chance again. We’ll see what happens.

With no football I’ve become an expert around the home.

I’ve been painting fences, helping to put decking down. Then the other day I spent eight hours digging a tree out of my front garden. The roots had gone right under the house!

And on Thursday I had eight hours sorting the garage out – all that with little ones running around me. I need football back!


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