Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Do Fleet's ambitious plans threaten the Rickshaw?

An important part of Charlton's current crowd boosting strategy is to bring in crowds from all over Kent using the Rickshaw service. Some of them will be lasped fans, some of them are existing season ticket holders and others are converts. The strategy received some criticism in the past from Scally at Gillingham, but the club has long roots in the county - and anyway the old distinctive S.E.London accent was a mixture of London and rural Kent.

Gravesend and Northfleet have a good relationship with Charlton, providing the location for our women's team. Some Charlton fans go there to watch matches, particularly if they live nearby, even though our official non-league partner is Welling United. But now Fleet have plans to make use of the Thames Gateway development, also a target for Charlton for new fans (whom we suggested in an April 1st story might be renamed Thames Gateway). The club is thinking of re-branding itself as Ebbsfleet, to reflect the name of the new station two hundred metres away, and is looking for money in the City to boost its hopes of becoming a league club.
Would such a new league club in the area be in Charlton's long-term interests?

Vast sums of money are going into non-league football as I noted when Racing Club Warwick received a £2m funding package (of which they contributed £30,000) to build among other things a double decker stand for their 80 or so regular supporters. In total the Footbal Stadium Improvement Fund and the Football Foundation have given £27,448,654 to non-league clubs since 2000. Now even the barmy Bardsmen are to get a new Southern League standard stadium with an artificial playing surface outside Stratford (which will mean the end of passing trade from bemused American and Japanese tourists looking for Shakespeare sites).

As a vice-president of a non-league club, I am all in favour of fostering the non-league club, although I am more sceptical of the 'healthy lifestyles' and 'social inclusion' buzz phrases. But we should remember that non-league is as much driven by money, albeit on a much smaller scale, than the Premiership.


Blogger The Sausage Tree said...

I guess that this may have a small effect on the addicks gate, but not anything significant - assuming it happens.

Dartford will be moving to a new stadium next season that may also tempt a few back to a more local arena for their football fix.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Inspector Sands said...

Hah! This reminds me of an April Fool's joke I was thinking of posting. I really hope they don't change their name, it reflects where they come from while Ebbsfleet means nothing now and won't mean much even with a station there - if people turn up and say "I live in Ebbsfleet" they'd be rightly laughed at.

It'd be like West Ham changing their name to "Newham United" or Tottenham becoming "Haringey Town".

8:52 PM  
Blogger Inspector Sands said...

Oh, and as for the other point - Maidstone's brief spell as a Dartford-based Div 4 club didn't exactly threaten us.

Mind you, I'd pay good money to be at a Fleet v Gills derby in 2007 ;-)

8:54 PM  

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