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Four Non-League Predictions for the New Year

Slough Town

Making predictions in football is a risky business. Sure, from time to time we can make a sagacious forecast, but most often we end up channelling Alan Hansen and his “you can’t win anything with kids” moment. Anyway, 2020 is soon upon us and we are going to try our hand and making some predictions for the year ahead. Some will be specific, whereas others will be a bit more wide-ranging. We’ll add the latest betting information where possible to back up any claims.

Without further ado:

Prediction 1: The National League has its Most Exciting Finish in Recent Memory

At the time of writing, 4 points separate 1st place to 7th, and just 6 points separate the team in 7th from the team in 15th. The title and playoff spots are up for grabs from anyone in those bands. The thing is the bookmakers tend to disagree with our assertion that several teams will be in contention in the latter stages of the season, putting Solihull Moors (2/1) and Barrow (4/1, Bet365) way out on their own. We are now past the halfway stage of the season, so it’s time to make a case for big-priced teams like Woking (33/1, William Hill) who just aren’t going away. Back them as a shot to nothing with a promotion from the team at FreeBets UK, because nobody truly knows how this will end up.

Prediction 2:  Dorking Wanderers Rise is Halted – for Now

Is there a bigger fairy-tale in football than the rise of Dorking Wanderers? What started as an idea to set up a team with some mates has borne the fruit of 11 promotions in 20 years. Last year Dorking sauntered through the Isthmian League and now find themselves in the heady surroundings of the National League South. It’s 40/1 (Bet365) they overcome a rough patch and bridge the 10-point gap to Wealdstone. We don’t see that happening, although they do occupy a play-off spot at the moment. The meteoric rise looks like it will be halted for now, but don’t be surprised to see the club moving up again soon.

Prediction 3: Televised Games Diaspora Allows Non-League to Profit

In early December and Boxing Day 2019, Amazon Prime will be showing 20 Premier League matches through its streaming platform. What has that got to do with non-league football? Well, it highlights how football will be consumed differently by viewers, being spread out on a range of platforms. The upshot is that it frees up broadcasters like Sky, BBC and BT Sport to provide more emphasis on the lower leagues. BT Sport has been particularly good at doing this, putting National League games in the primetime 5.30pm slot. As more tech companies get involved in football broadcasting, you can expect better coverage of your favourite side.

Prediction 4: Sin Bins Work and The Big Leagues Take Note

As discussed in the NLP, sin bins might really make the game better. Arguably, the best thing we can say about them so far is that they haven’t really had awful headlines and discussions that roll outs like VAR have faced. It will be interesting to see the stats at the end of the season and the impact they have had.

This article was brought to you by The Non-League Paper, the UK's best-selling football title on the newsstand, on-sale every Sunday.
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