It's a Guy Thing

Lower league football: The perfect antidote to Premier League disillusionment 

The Premier League. England’s top flight. The supposed best league in the world that is adored by football fans everywhere. Or is it? In fact, for a large proportion of football fans in the country, watching sides like Notts County finally return to the Football League is far a more enjoyable and rewarding experience, particularly given the variety of ugliness that is more present than ever before in the Premier League. 

From Everton being deducted 10 points with immediate effect and Manchester City waiting to hear what exactly their punishment will be due to a blatant disregard for 115 rules, coupled with the ridiculous transfer fees and an abundance of selfie sticks that are seen at big encounters in top-level stadiums up and down the country, England’s premier competition isn’t what it used to be. Throw in the unscrupulous owners who are pricing fans out of attending matches due to extortionate ticket prices, the crazy money being spent on wages and going to agents, and the hoarding of youngsters for tiny transfer fees from smaller clubs who are struggling to survive, plus the desire for some major clubs to disregard the tradition and history of football in this country to join a European Super League, and it’s entirely reasonable why many supporters are ditching their season tickets at clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea, and opting to discover the delights of lower league football instead. 

Of course, Championship football, League One, League Two, and the National League and below also have their issues, but there are some great examples of clubs that are managing to do it the right way and providing the perfect antidote to Premier League disillusionment in the process. Sure, the football might not be as good as what the likes of Manchester City can serve up, but it’s a purer experience on the whole that makes fans feel like fans and not the customers that many supporters of a top-flight team feel like they are today. 

AFC Wimbledon and other fan-owned clubs are putting the power in the hands of supporters

For Wimbledon fans, competing in the top flight is a familiar experience. Before the well-documented move to Milton Keynes that resulted in the admirable rebirth of Wimbledon’s football club in the shape of AFC Wimbledon, they were seeing their side beat the big boys up against the odds at Plough Lane fairly regularly, watching the likes of David Beckham score from the halfway line for Manchester United, and enjoying the overall match day experience on offer. Today, the fan-owned club that Wombles fans have helped create is a completely unique experience to what’s on offer at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, though. Sure, Dons fans might occasionally watch Match of the Day and assess the Premier League relegation odds before having a flutter, but it’s ultimately another world to them in England’s top division that is riddled with the same type of greed that resulted in the original Wimbledon being uprooted and rebranded for the people of Milton Keynes to struggle to get behind. 

Today, after going on an astonishing journey up through the leagues after being forced to start from scratch, AFC Wimbledon fans have helped fund the club’s new Plough Lane home. They’re selling out regularly in League Two, and the future of their club is well and truly in their hands. The same fans who successfully protested against moving the old club to Dublin and fought against the ludicrous proposal to merge with QPR are now owners of their football club. They have a Dons Trust membership that oversees pretty much everything, and nobody can say that they don’t really deserve it. Even Milton Keynes Dons are now in the same division as the Wombles and are getting gates of around 6,000 in a stadium that holds 30,530. 

While the stories differ, the Wombles aren’t alone in being entirely fan-owned either. League One side Exeter City have been on a similar journey, FC United of Manchester were formed after disillusioned fans of Manchester United and the Glazer family’s ownership joined forces, and there’s sides like Newport County, and York City who also operate in a similar manner. 

A more wholesome all-round experience on offer 

If fan-powered football isn’t enough of a reason to stop renewing your expensive Premier League season ticket, then the overall experience on offer at a lower-league football ground just might be. At full-time, instead of players dashing off in their luxurious cars while wearing headphones in an attempt to avoid any sort of interaction with supporters, they can be seen sharing a few drinks with fans in the bar afterwards. They’re always willing to sign autographs and have a chat, and they genuinely care about the clubs they represent because they don’t earn anywhere near the same amount of money as the likes of Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah do, two players who could find another team to play for in an instant. 

Throw in the cheaper ticket prices, the ability to sit closer to the action, the friendly interactions with fans of other clubs, and the opportunity to stand during a match and make the most of a proper atmosphere on offer, and winning games further down the English football pyramid means a lot more. 

So, if you’re sick of life in the top flight, then find the perfect antidote to Premier League disillusionment at a lower-league club near you. You certainly won’t regret it.