Devon FA’s Dennis Smith - the future of football

Devon FA vice-chairman Dennis Smith

Devon FA vice-chairman Dennis Smith - Credit: Archant

Devon FA official Dennis Smith gives his verdict on where footbal is at the moment

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Dennis Smith is well-known in South Devon amateur sports circles.

A Devon Cricket League unpire, Dennis is also vice-chairmanof the Devon Football Association and is a life vice-president of the South Devon Football League.

Here he gives his views on where football is at the moment.

More than ever before our national game is at a crossroads, unable to cope with the invisible virus that threatens its future more than anything that it has faced before.

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From the very first days of organised football the game has had its problems and has overcome them.

With positivity, hard work and compromise the game has survived and gone from strength to strength. At the highest level football is big business bringing in billions of pounds to the UK economy through the sales generated by its biggest product, the English Premier League. However, as time goes on, I believe the value of our product will reduce, especially if other nations are able to resume playing before us like Germany have just done.

I see this as a problem that will reduce revenues and ultimately slow down development of football at grass roots.

That is a shame because, in my view, football was already in a difficult place as, despite all the work and money that has gone into development, less people are playing 11 v 11 men's football on a Saturday afternoon. Local parks pitches stand empty most Saturdays and that is a far cry from the days when my generation were playing.

However, players still want to play and without them there would be no game and that seems to be where we have a sticking point. Whilst players at the top level are receiving the salaries that they are why would they put at risk their health and that of their nearest and dearest until they are guaranteed to be safe.

Then there is the effect this will have had on the mental health of players. The disappointment many players must have felt when their seasons came to an end is impossible to gauge.

In this county alone 19 of the County Cup finals had reached the final stage. Many of the them involving young people both male and female and the County FA officials are trying to find a way of getting them played - even if it means playing them at the start of the next season.

Let's not be too pessimistic, football will overcome this setback and may well be better for it.