SOCCER LIKELY TO COST MORE NEXT SEASON POSSIBILITY ALSO OF NEW LEAGUE CUP COMPETITION
League football is likely to cost spectators more next season. The management committee at the Football League's annual meeting later this month will propose increasing the minimum charge for admission to their football grounds from two shillings to half-a-crown. Another proposal which appears on the agenda is that a new "knock out" competition, to be known as the Football League Cup, shall be started next season. But the League secretary, Mr. A. Hardaker, has already stated that the new competition is definitely not intended to take the place of the Football Association Challenge Cup, or to interfere with it in any way. The intention is in fact that the new cup competition would be spread throughout the season, its matches played in mid-week and conducted on a knock-out basis.
EXETER CITY'S SEASON
This is the time to take a look at the season just completed as far as the Exeter City club is concerned. It was not as successful a season for the City as was hoped at the start but it could have been. They started off with more or less the same side that got them to within one point of promotion in 1958-59. They did not have George Hunter or Johnny Nicholls, but they did have Alan Jones and Andy Micklewright. But right from the start the trouble was in the forward line. Ted Calland, the previous season's top scorer, could not get anywhere near the net and Graham Rees struggled to score on his own. The selectors re-shuffled the forward line all ways and used up every possible permutation, and it still didn't work. Then they bought Jack Wilkinson, and the tall centre-forward from Port Vale seemed to be the answer. He started to rattle in a few goals, the City started to climb the league table, and by the time of the Christmas matches they were well in the promotion hunt. Twice Exeter beat Torquay. Twice there was no doubt in those games as to which was the better side. Yet now Torquay are celebrating with champagne while the City drain the dregs of defeat. What went wrong? It is likely that the unsettled atmosphere on the administrative side didn't help the players; it is likely that the forward line and both goalkeepers can be blamed, but this sounds rather too much like excuses, and it could be talked about until next season without anybody being any the wiser.
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
The answer probably lies in part of each question; the unrest in the board room could not have helped the players, for part of it must have filtered through to the dressing room. The forward line has not been good enough. The players in it have not always been consistent, apart from Rees, and they have not on many occasions shown enough willingness to fight back when down. The defence has made its mistakes too, especially the goalkeepers, and it was not helped when Ken Oliver was laid out with injury in the last part of the season. But it cannot be pinned down on to any one thing apart from the one obvious fact that the results show, that the City team just wasn't good enough to get promotion.
And this was not anyone's fault in particular because the club has not got the money to buy anything better. So what are their chances next season? Will they be able to succeed on their limited-budget staff? The chairman, Mr George Gillin, says "It won't be a question of whether or not we'll be able to succeed, or even get along. We will get along, because we've got to." It is most people's belief that Mr Gillin and his board are basing their cut-price plan on the fact that other clubs in this and the Third Division are being forced to do the same thing. They think that if other clubs are in the same boat then, at the least, Exeter City will not be any worse off, and if they could build up a reasonable staff then they could be better off.
It is not a happy thought that there will be no youth side to build on next season any more than it is that Exeter City Reserves will be playing in such a low class league as the Western League Division 2. But there is also the much happier thought that it is better to have a good, economic playing staff of about 22 than have a large staff and carry a lot of dead weight just to make up the numbers. The City are carrying some dead weight on their playing staff right now in the persons of young players who won't make the grade plus older players who are not good enough. They can get rid of these and not feel any loss at all, but if they have to rely on a small staff then it has got to be a good one. There is one thing and one thing only that will decide what Exeter City's future and their future policy will be, and that is cash. The club will be struggling to find the summer wages, and they will certainly be struggling to make any close-season improvements to the ground, and any that are made will have to be done on credit. After that they will have to face another greatly expensive season of travelling, of 400 and 500 miles week-end "safaris" to the north of England. The City club lost enough money on travelling during this season. Take last week-end's trip to Workington and then to Darlington. It took from Friday morning till Tuesday evening, and the club got hardly any change out of £300. Yet all they got back were the two £100 gate guarantees. This is the sort of thing that must make the City economise, and must make them desperate to get out of the Fourth Division.
- The Grecians Association and the Red and White Supporters club keep pouring the money in.
- In the last five years they have given Exeter City about £50,000, but instead of being put to a concrete use all this has been absorbed in running expenses.
- There are plenty of ground improvements that Mr Gillin and the City directors would like to see, and they have plans for the covered accommodation opposite the grandstand.
- But the first thing will be to find the summer wages. No one knows yet where they will be coming from, but Mr Gillin has said that no more money will be put into the club unless everyone puts it in.