Locked-down Brixham AFC focus on title push next season
- Credit: Archant
When the amateur football season was terminated by the FA and all results expunged, there was virtually universal agreement across the sporting community.
Inevitably, however, it was tough decision to take for teams competing at the top of their respective divisions, as six months of hard football graft was denied the thrilling finale a competitive season so often brings.
Brixham AFC were top of the South West Peninsula League east division and locked into a compelling title race with the likes of Ilfracombe, Bovey Tracey, Torpoint and a few more in the mix.
Winning this league in their first campaign as a Step Six club would have been an amazing achievement for Brixham but, as manager Jason Couch explained, cancelling the season was a sensible decision.
'We are in the middle of a global pandemic and decisions are being made for the good of people's health, which obviously usurps everything else,' said Jason. 'From a purely football side of things, we were obviously gutted the season was cancelled but it was totally understandable.
'From within our football bubble, it was heartbreaking for Brixham Football Club because we were potentially on course to win the league, which would have been a huge achievement for a club only formed in 2012.
'We were playing at Step Six in the football pyramid for the first time and it would have been massive [to win the league] but staying safe and protecting everyone through this crisis is clearly the right thing to do.
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'Everybody is fine at the club. A number of our committee members are in the 'at risk' category, due to their age and underlying health concerns, but they are all fine and getting through it, like everyone.
'The players are taking part in the 5km challenge, where they run 5km and put up their times on the WhatsApp group. They are staying in good spirits and the lads are always communicating with each other.
'Two of our players were due to get married in May but both their weddings have been put back to September. In terms of general spirits though, everyone seems to be OK.'
There is an obvious financial impact on clubs like Brixham, with the added uncertainty over future sponsorship, but the club is confident of mounting another title challenge when football hopefully resumes as normal next season.
'The club was enjoying one of our best ever seasons,' said Jason. 'The club formed in 2012 after the merger between Brixham Villa and Brixham United, with the ambition to progress a Brixham team up the football ladder.
'I came in as manager and my remit was to take the club up the leagues. We got into the Peninsula League and established ourselves at that level, finishing fourth and third in the last two seasons.
'We were up to Step Six this season and were top of the league. We've put up floodlights, built a stand, renovated the changing rooms and achieved so much at our facility, with the future potential to possibly progress to the Western League.
'We are in the FA Vase next year and the club has progressed massively. It looked like this season would be the best of the lot but obviously it wasn't meant to be.
'Matchday revenue is very important to us and the other aspect is that a lot of our income is from sponsors. A lot of these sponsors are small businesses and it is impossible to know whether they will have the money for sponsorship next season.
'Small businesses will be fighting for every penny after this crisis, matchday takings have gone and the club also runs a lottery, which has also stopped because most of the tickets are sold in the pubs around Brixham.
'On the flip side, our expenditure has stopped, other than pitch maintenance.
'We're not spending money but this is the time of year when you make more money because people want to watch a team fighting for the title, and the weather is also improving.
'The Peninsula League have been brilliant, they've stopped league fees for all clubs next year and our aim is to keep the lads together at Brixham, perhaps a couple of new faces, and go again next season for what will hopefully be another title push.'