Raynes Park Vale FC Speaks About Their Ambitions For 2020 and beyond
We chose this events as the F.A Cup is the spectacle of non-league and we want to use this milestone to set out our vision for the future of Raynes Park Vale Football Club post COVID-19. To follow our fortunes throughout next season we’ll be regularly updating www.raynesparkvale.com and our twitter feed @RPVFC.Traditionally as this week is full of excitement as the nation builds up for the F.A Cup final, the oldest and most prestigious cup competition in the world. We didn’t want to lose this excitement due to COVID-19 and at 3pm this Saturday (23rd May) we launched our new website www.raynesparkvale.com.
Raynes Park Vale’s non-league journey-to-date
Non-league football is a fascinating ecosystem. Devoid of the commercial income streams earned in the professional leagues, the financial sustainability of the clubs are underpinned by regular injections of capital, mainly from owners. Despite the fact that the vast majority of the non-league system is not self-subsistent, it is astounding to see the number of clubs allocating significant sums of money to their playing squads at the lower levels of the game, all too often resulting in season end disappointment. The resulting boom-bust scenarios fed by the decisions above are ten-a-penny, presenting the idea that perhaps the value in the system is not in the clubs that have money, but rather the clubs that have been starved of it. As an all-amateur football club playing in the 9th tier of English football, Raynes Park Vale FC endeavour to change the status-quo come the new season.
Logic leads us to believe that clubs dangling this far down the football structure should have no business in wage offering & player speculation, nonetheless, the Vale (as they’re affectionately known) find themselves as one of the few remaining amateur sides in the division, competing with teams paying player wages well into the triple figures. This may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with this level in English football, but considering each of these teams annually qualify for the FA Cup, the semi-professional nature of this league has been around for almost a decade. And the question begs to be asked, with the lack of spending money made available by the several owners over the years, how does Raynes Park Vale continue to compete at this level?
London’s non-league phoenix
The club’s greatest asset is one that has been the most ignored from an investment perspective. Sitting a stone’s throw away from Wimbledon, Raynes Park Vale is one of only 4 non-professional clubs within 30 min public transport journey from Zone 1 London (Fisher FC, Hanwell Town & Barking FC being the three others). Despite this, the club currently has a ramshackle home – far from the ideals of where you’d like to spend your Saturday afternoon. In fact, this was felt so strongly by an opposition player in a league fixture, that his explicit description of the ground earned him a yellow card. Despite the lack of easy-on-the-eye facilities & a well-paying wage, the club has never failed to attract talent to the club, primarily as a result of its location.
Raynes Park Vale’s vision
Under new management, the players and staff have felt a renewed sense of passion and drive radiating out the club. Raynes Park Vale aim to turn the heads of its semi-professional counterparts by embracing their all amateur policy and, against-all-odds, achieve promotion in the next few seasons, making them possibly the highest placing amateur football club in London. Off the playing field, the club’s leadership have embarked on a campaign to return the club to its community based roots. Emerging from the working class Southern Railway FC, the club aims to bring a rare spark back to the community of Raynes Park and steer the club away from their arduous financial past and toward financial sustainability. In order to realise the vision, and enabled through a successful fundraising campaign, the club continues to operate and plan behind the scenes, despite the freeze COVID-19 had brought to its (albeit, little) matchday income.
It’s understood that once the epidemic subsides, the club hopes to be in a better position and considering their new website, social media strategy & soon-to-be rejuvenated football pitch, the club will be in a position to attract the supporters and local sponsors that it’s lacked for decades. It proves to be seen if the fairytale vision of the club will be realised, but one thing is clear to see, the forefront of the movement is one that should be adopted by the rest of their division, that each club should be as committed to their sustainability as they are to competing in a semi-professional environment.
Follow Raynes Park Vale’s journey
Raynes Park Vale want you to be part of the journey and the only way it can succeed is through the supporters of non-league football. When next season starts they hope to count on your support until then visit the new website (www.raynesparkvale.com) and follow them on twitter @RPVFC.
Figure 4: Come visit Raynes Park Vale FC and enjoy the fully licensed bar