Updated 21 April 2021
Ben Snowdon, Cumberland FA CEO has given the following statement:
“Like many other we welcomed the news, last night, that the English clubs had decided to abandon their plans to join a European Super League. I think our reaction to the initial proposal was the same as many other footballing organisations and, judging by comments on social media, the majority of our members, in that it is clear that this would have been detrimental to football at all levels, including at the very root of grassroots football, which is where all football journeys start and often end.
At a time when a lot of people and establishments are facing up to an uncertain and potentially hugely challenging future, as we hopefully emerge from this pandemic, the initial announcement has done nothing to help the integrity or future prospects of the sport, as the proposal didn’t appear to be in the best interests of the National game or those who love it dearly.
As the Chief Executive of The Cumberland FA I understand that I must apply some business principles to what we do and how we do it. My philosophy has and continues to be that it is imperative that we remember what our main business is, and that is football. The reality is that if we were to go out of business, football would still be loved and played. But if football no longer connects with people, then we cease to exist, no matter how good a business model we have.
As an organisation Cumberland Football Association has been supporting local football since 1884. If you read the minutes of meetings held from that time, very little has changed. People still talked about referees, facilities and competition between different parts of the county. The CFA, like the football pyramid within England, was built around the sporting integrity, some may say a fairy tale ‘Roy of the Rovers’ story, that in principle a team can move up through the levels to the ‘join’ the elite, as the standard that your club plays at can be determined by sporting merit rather than just finance alone.
It is these founding principles that are fundamental to competitive sport and the reason why, like many others reading this, my grandfather, my father, myself and now my own son and daughter have also become smitten with the game. As a Sunderland fan we have a saying that it is the 'Hope I can't stand'. This relates to the fact, and recently the reality, that your team can go on a run that allows you to start to dream about a promotion but just as that thought comes into your mind, a run of poor results can equally bring you back down to earth with a huge bump. So right now, whether you are a fan of team that is from the Premier League, Football League, National League or below, it feels like it is this hope, our love and our passion for the game that was being openly attacked by this proposal.
Whilst we are aware we have little power or influence, our position , on behalf of our members and through our FA Representative to The FA council, will be to ensure that The National FA 'work with all parties', including crucially the fans and hopefully grassroots clubs, 'to seek to ensure that nothing is approved’ whether that be now or in the future, ‘ that has the potential to damage English football' and subsequently the game within Cumberland”.