The end is nigh for football programmes

Is it is the end for Football Programmes?

The call for the death of Football Programmes by Football League clubs has been a long time coming.

Regardless of what the die-hards say, it is time to consign programmes to the great dustbin in the sky, certainly in the NCEL for starters. The case for that is extremely strong.

Producing a programme, for most NCEL clubs, is a job they could do without and there is mostly no reward. There are loads of examples of NCEL clubs selling only one-or-two on a match-day, despite printing over 20. Environmentalists would have a fit about the amount of paper wasted.

There are some fantastic programmes in the NCEL such as Handsworth Parramore’s, Glasshoughton Welfare’s, Bridlington Town’s, AFC Emley’s and Selby Town’s, but they are in a minority. The majority of clubs are really struggling to fill the programme editor position and even produce a programme.

A strong social media presence and to a certain extent an up-to-date website are far more important. That’s where people access their information in 2018, not in programmes. 

Just because a bloke has travelled 100 miles to tick a club off his list and expects a programme doesn’t mean you should have to produce one. A lot of those demand programmes have never been involved in the running of a Non League football club.

Non League football clubs are small businesses and producing programmes, in a lot of cases, make no financial sense. Unless you’re a club selling lots of advertising space (which few will be) or a club who have a very good deal with a local printer, programmes are not cost effective. Some must lose a fortune financially producing programmes.

People say programmes are part of our football heritage and losing them would be like the end of civilisation. 

I know call it evolution. There needs be a different way of thinking. 

When you enter a Non League ground, what is one of the first things you want to know?

In most cases, it is probably where’s the bar. For a lot of people it is who’s playing today/tonight?

Programmes won’t tell you that because most of the information is out-of-date because it has been printed at least a day in advance. 

It should be mandatory for NCEL to print 50 team-sheets for the crowd. On the other side of the sheet, clubs could use the space to highlight sponsors, player sponsors and their upcoming fixtures and recent results. A double-sided sheet would also get the club’s message across more effectively than a programme would because the readership would almost be 100% higher.

In this day and age when volunteers and money are hard to come by for most Non League clubs, programmes are very unnecessary.

5 thoughts on “The end is nigh for football programmes

  1. I never buy them anyway , (too tight ) but I have friends who collect them even when they don’t get to the particular match , so it don’t bother me either way

  2. I disagree vehemently with your opinions on this subject.
    Programmes can be produced within budgets like every other item within even the smallest club.
    Not everyone, even in this “modern age” has, or wants, access to social media.
    LONG LIVE THE FOOTBALL PROGRAMME.

  3. The team sheet ides won’t work either, how many teams have access to a printer at their ground and of course there is far too much to do pre match to consider typing up team sheets for issue, its a non starter

  4. James, as a ex-programme editor u should know better than to condemn our beloved football programme. Granted some clubs may only sell a few so feel it’s not worthwhile but there are still a lot of programme collectors out there who want a programme from each match they attend.
    If the leagues do decide to do away with making it mandatory to produce a programme they should at least be made to make an official team-sheet available to fans.

  5. As the editor of the NCEL’s most successful programme in the old Wirral Programme Awards, Denaby United, I feel that the Football League clubs have taken a backward step. What they needed to do was rationalise their programmes rather than stop then. In fact only a few unambitious clubs will stop them, and I am glad that my club Sheffield United have already stated that their programme will remain.

    From my own experience, producing a programme is a labour of love at NCEL level, but I got a great deal of pleasure from it. On average we sold to a third of the crowd, which was usually around 50 programmes per match on average. Some midweek games particularly for League Cup, President’s Cup and Sheffield Senior Cup games that number was a lot less and in hindsight we should have produced a slimmed down version. The programme however brought Denaby United a lot of good publicity (and a decent profit each year in terms of sales and advertising) and you can still obtain copies even today on e-bay despite the fact that the club went out of existence for a good number of years. The new club, of which I have no link, still produce a programme in the County Senior League and even did so in the Doncaster Senior League despite not having to. To me a programme is a mark of a club’s ambition. Sadly many non-league clubs will seek to make this EFL decision a precedent for their leagues and this may have repercussions for league sponsorship etc.

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