Salford City


I am beginning to think that Salford City are fast becoming the most unloved club in the lower reaches of the football leagues. I know there was an intense rivalry between themselves and Darlington both on and off field, going back to their Northern Premier League days when both clubs were challenging for promotion.

On one television clip showing the on-pitch celebrations of the Orient players after winning the league title you could clearly see one Orient player mouthing the words "F... you, Salford." One wonders why.

Obviously the involvement and investment into the club of several former high profile ex-Manchester United players, the latest to join their ranks being David Beckham who now owns 10% of the club, raised the club's profile so much that the BBC started a love affair with them and spent a season or two screening the club's highs and lows on a weekly basis. It came as no surprise then, when the Beeb had their cameras in situ at Moor Lane half an hour after the first round draw of the FA cup had been announced, in which Salford would host Notts County.

It was even less of a surprise, having dispatched Notts County, that Salford would again feature live on television, in the second round against Pools. The Beeb probably argued that, apart from hoping for a juicy cup upset, they hadn't got round to removing the cameras from Salford's ground from the previous cup tie.

As we all know the game went to a replay and lo and behold the Beeb somehow managed to unbolt their now almost permanently-installed cameras from Moor lane and installed them at the Vic so the nation could continue to view Salford's progress. Salford were getting so much TV exposure that when my license fee was due for renewal I mistakenly wrote the cheque out to Salford City FC instead of the BBC. Goodness knows how much they made from the television rights but they probably would have earned a lot more if Pools hadn't disposed of them in said replay.

I am convinced that the Beeb had them down to go all the way to Wembley. So much was the BBC's love-in with the Lancashire club that at one stage Salford were featured on national prime time television more times than Strictly, and that does take some doing.
"fans from other non-league clubs view the whole Salford model as a rich man's plaything."

Since that documentary, which initially showed a typical non league ground with one end featuring a grass embankment, City now have a brand new bespoke, if somewhat uninspiring, stadium on the same site, which is all but a glorified Meccano set.

Obviously their famous backers and the Beeb's interest has raised the profile of the club and their fans must be delighted. On the other side of the coin fans from other non-league clubs view the whole Salford model as a rich man's plaything.

I recently read that Salford for all their investment are haemorrhaging money at a frightening level. Three of their forwards are earning between them over £12k per week. This for a club whose average gate is only 2,500 and this in a promotion-challenging season. One wonders what their gates would be like if they were in the same league position as Pools.

Their last game of the season against Pools, in which Salford had a remote possibility of gaining automatic promotion, saw only 350 Salford fans make the trip to the Vic. In contrast, earlier in the season Pools took just short of 600 fans down to Moor lane for a midweek fixture. Pools might not have the money but by God we have passion and history that our Lancastrian friends could only dream of. If Salford do get promoted I can see them joining the ranks of other unloved sides such as Crawley, Stevenage as well as M.K.Dons. They surely all should belong to a league of their own.

I fear that when Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers as well as Beckham get fed up with the whole Salford venture, provided that they do not go broke, could see them make a swift return down to the lower levels of non-league football and beyond.

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