How was AFC Liverpool formed?
Just prior to our formation, the Premier League considered introducing a “39th game” which would see teams play in various locations around the world. It was increasingly apparent that top flight football was focusing on income from TV broadcast deals and the associated revenue from advertising, rather than the fans who helped build their teams’ successes. From that time until today, going to a Premier League game takes a lot of planning to secure a ticket, and a huge financial commitment. For many, football is becoming something they only see on TV. This isn’t right.
AFC Liverpool was not formed in protest against Liverpool FC, quite the opposite in fact. The initial idea for the club was the result of a conversation between our three founders which included our current chairman, Chris Stirrup. They decided to form a team which could have a similar ethos to LFC, but could offer more affordability and allow fans to have a greater say in how football is run. The idea took hold with LFC fans who could no longer afford tickets to visit Anfield regularly, and they saw AFC Liverpool as an alternative option to their beloved Reds whilst staying loyal to the ideals of their club.
Through supporter ownership, our members make all the major decisions that affect their club. Fans can
stand with their mates, or bring their whole family, and by setting the admission prices as a group, we ensure that members of society who are most in need are still able to enjoy a game of football. Ultimately, we are football fans wanting to give a live match day experience to as many people as we can.
Tell us about AFC Liverpool and what the values of the club are.
AFC Liverpool is an independent football club that was set up in 2008 by Liverpool FC fans who were being priced out of top flight football due to the rising costs involved. The club is owned by its fans and run by its fans. Anyone can become a member and have an equal vote on how the club develops. One member – One vote. We are a genuine, not for profit football club, so all the revenue generated stays within the club and doesn’t line the pockets of a multi-millionaire owner.
As well as providing affordable football, the club aims to be a valuable part of the local community and gets involved with social initiatives such as foodbank collections, and regularly partners with local charities to raise money for good causes.
Just how important is Laduma’s sponsorship of AFC Liverpool to the club?
Obviously, even though we keep admission prices as low as possible, football clubs don’t run on fresh air, even in non-league. Teams at our level still rely on sponsorship deals, just the same as top-flight clubs, but in our case 100% of this sponsorship is used to support our teams’ running costs, and to provide supporters with an enjoyable match day experience.
As such, Laduma’s fantastic support, which began last season, has ensured we can keep providing “Affordable Football For All”. It is hugely important to AFC Liverpool, and with more financial stability, our volunteers can focus their efforts in other areas and develop the club further, such as the recent progress in our plans to secure a site to locate a ground of our own within the city.
What does the sponsorship money get spent on?
The sponsorship enables us to cover all of our match costs, including ground costs, referees fees, insurance, team kits, the list goes on! We can also provide coach transport to the furthest away games, and we have found that travelling together has really helped team bonding and match preparation. We have also seen the benefit of being able to schedule more combined training sessions for our first team and reserve team at the same facilities, and this all helps us progress on the pitch and move forward as one club. Without your support, the challenges of running the club become financially harder, so a partnership with an international company like Laduma is absolutely invaluable to AFC Liverpool. Thank you!
It’s Non-League Day on Saturday, why would you encourage people to support their local Non-League football team?
Non-League Day is an annual event to promote awareness of the thousands of clubs that compete week-in, week-out, but don’t get a lot of exposure compared to the higher levels of football. People are often unaware of teams that play just a mile or two from their doorstep, so it is an opportunity to seek out a local team and support them.
Non-League is like a big family, where everyone is made to feel welcome. It is an excellent chance for people to really enjoy a game of football without the high pressure and high costs of League football. Where else could you enjoy a drink after the match with the star striker or get a lift home from a Club Chairman? Whilst the standard of football may not be Champions League level, what you will see is lads playing football for football’s sake, not for the money. That said, the likes of Jamie Vardy and Troy Deeney started their careers at non-league teams, so it is entirely possible you may see a Premier League player in the making!
For many newcomers to the Non-League scene, the most striking thing is that real passion and commitment are still there in abundance, which is ultimately what we all want from our football clubs.