WITH so much management effort going into recruiting shareholders in Lewes FC, it was perhaps inevitable that other fundraising areas might be neglected. One such area has been that of the kit sponsorship of players – although to be fair it was difficult to know when to start this activity this season as Steve King had his work cut out in putting together a full, settled team in the window of opportunity he had from the time of his appointment as manager.
Quite a few players have already come and gone and it would have been frustrating indeed for any fan putting his money to the name of a player only to find he had just a little later moved on. But when the Rooks Supporters Club stepped forward and offered to run this season’s kit sponsorship as part of their normal range of fundraising activities, the offer was gratefully accepted by the Lewes FC Board.
It means that now for just £60 a fan can now put his or her name against that of a Lewes FC player. In return the fan’s name will appear on the club website, feature in matchday programmes, and will have the opportunity for their photograph to be taken with their chosen player.
Some players have already been ‘nabbed’ by fans: Jason Foulkes has got Gary Holloway; Susie Arlett is linked with Lewis Hamilton; Nick Fears nominated Paul Booth – and the Commercial Square Bonfire Society chose Nic Ciardino. Companies can also sponsor the kit of players and the first to do was letting agents, Stanley & Partners, who were quick to snap up Christian Nanetti, the young Italian lad who has been delighting the Dripping Pan crowds with his mesmerising ball skills.
I’ve put my money against Steve King, although my hopes of getting a discount on account of his diminutive statue and thus a requirement for smaller size kit were promptly dashed!
Obviously it leaves a fair few players ‘up for grabs’.
A list of opportunities appears in the Supporters Club section of the Fans Forum (access it via the official website: www.lewesfc.com).
Folk can also enquire with me on 01273 478513.
Though he lives in Haywards Heath, Glen Dauwalder gets down to Lewes to see the Rooks play as often as he can. On one recent visit he came bearing an unusual gift; it comprised a collection of football annuals spanning the decades between 1960 right up until 2000.
As Glen explained: “The annuals were collected by my father and I’ve been meaning to do something with them for a while now. I collect the Sky Sports Football Yearbooks and they take up enough space as they are. Rather than scrap the annuals I thought the football club might be able to find a good home for them.”
Right now that good home is my home and this has given me the opportunity to delve into some of the contents. The earliest covers the season 1960-61, when the annual was published by the Empire News, a newspaper that merged with the News of the World the following year.
The name Jimmy Hill on the cover caught my eye, not least because the former Fulham player and famous TV pundit has visited the Dripping Pan many times down the years in his capacity as President of Corinthian Casuals.
The Casuals are doing quite well in Ryman League One South at the moment so, who knows, if Lewes do not win promotion out of Ryman Premier this season, we could be welcoming Jimmy and his famous chin back to the Pan again next year!
Anyway, in an article in the annual, Jimmy forcefully put his case for abolishing the maximum wage rule for professional footballers, then set at £20 per week.
He wrote: “The League says the maximum wage is fundamental to the success of a healthy competition. Further, if it was abolished, all the good players would go to a few clubs, leaving the others bare and uninteresting.
“They also argue that a few players would get all the money and the majority would starve or be forced out of football.”
Countering the League’s argument, Hill penned: “Players say it is unjust that there should be any form of restriction on the earnings of a declared professional and that this should be the distinction between a professional and an amateur. Public opinion supports their case.
“English fans have seen the achievements of Real Madrid and Barcelona, teams that have thrived in a system where there is no maximum wage.”
Of course, Jimmy’s argument prevailed and the maximum wage was abolished in English football later that very same season. It’s ironic though that all these years later a lot of football fans believe that the astronomic wages for the top players in the Premiership have rocketed out of all proportion to fiscal reality.
Some now call for the playing budgets of professional clubs to be linked to a club’s annual turnover which, I suppose is tantamount to imposing a maximum wage – even if would be more properly described as a maximum wage bill.
I like the further irony, too, that Jimmy is now figurehead of the highest-ranked amateur club in England – his beloved Corinthian Casuals...