Want to enter the BT Sport Pub Cup but haven’t got your own team yet? Fear not, you can always set one up in your pub’s name. Here’s some tips from the tactics board on getting your side together.
1. What kind of team do you want?
The BT Sport Pub Cup is open to all BT Sport pubs with an associated football team. We’re not in the business of creating barriers, so if you want to start a new team just for the tournament, that’s fine by us too.
But what kind of team do you want? Visions of creating a new lower league super-force to power through the football pyramid may be overly ambitious and could take up time you don’t have, thanks to the demands of the day job. Instead, you may want to consider setting-up a new side just for the cup or affiliating yourself with a team that already exists.
2. We mean business, we see ourselves as the next Salford City
Wouldn’t it be magical if one day The Dog & Duck was drawn to line-up against Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup? If that’s your dream you are going to need a chunk of budget and be a big fan of admin. Starting up a new club is going to cost you north of £1,000, according to kit supplier Kitlocker.com. Your biggest expense will be hiring a pitch (£500 to £1,000 a year) followed by team kit and other equipment. Of course, if you are one of the 48 teams to make it through to the Pub Cup qualifiers you’ll get to play for free on a top professional pitch.
However, the reality of running a club also involves registration with local leagues, assigning roles to club officials, registering players, collecting subs, rearranging fixtures…
3. OK, fine, affiliation probably does sound a better bet
This is the way most pub teams are run. In return for sponsorship the team will use the pub and, if you agree it, the pub name. Steph Todd is the licensee at The Seven Stars in Stithians, Truro, Cornwall. She supports both the village football and rugby clubs with sponsorship.
She says: “With the football team it is fairly casual. We sponsor the fixtures board outside the ground and I help them with other things when they need it. In return, they come back to the pub after games.
“There are two teams and they bring the opposition back as well, so we can have 50 or so people for an hour or two after the games. They provide me with a fixtures list, so I know what to expect.”
4. Sounds good, where can I find a team?
If you screen football in the pub the chances are that you will already have some players among the fans. According to Kitlocker.com two thirds of clubs have sponsors, that means one in three do not. Just have a word with your locals to see if they need a helping hand. If you can’t find a club check the FA.com, which will show you the nearest clubs to you geographically. With more than eight million British adults playing one form of the game or another you won’t be far from one.
5. How involved do I need to be?
That is, of course, entirely up to you. As well as her involvement with the football club Steph is also fixtures secretary for the rugby team. She says: “It can take up time but it is part of it and it is good to be involved in what’s going on in the community.”
6. Will I only see the players on match days?
You are most likely to see them after matches but you can also be the base for fundraising events, committee meetings and even presentation nights for your team. Michelle Payne, freeholder of the Ingate Free House in Suffolk – and BT Sport Manager of the Month for January – has changed both the gender balance in her pub and the attitudes of many men by sponsoring Beccles Ladies FC.
She says: “We got involved with Beccles Ladies because we wanted to support football and get more women in our pub to show that we are female friendly. It has worked brilliantly and they have become part of the community at the pub.”
7. Will we get the fans in as well?
The great thing about supporting a grass roots football team is that connections spread a long way. If you make an impression on the squad, management and opposition, word about your fantastic pub will travel far and wide.
Kevin McGhee, licensee at The Diggers in Edinburgh and another previous #BTMOTM, sponsors local side Real Maroon which is formed largely of regulars.
He says: “We also find that the fringe players or the ones not regulars in the pub soon become them. They start coming in with other friends or family. They socialise more with other regulars. The wives and girlfriends come in and meet them after games sometimes, so it can become quite social.”
8. And does it pay off?
Ultimately your links with a team should not only enhance your standing in the community but should also put a few more pennies in the till.
Matt Feeney, is the licensee of the Green Man, Willington, Derbyshire. He sponsors a senior side and a veterans team, that he also occasionally plays for.
He says: “We sponsor both sides and find the ROI pays for itself threefold. Not only do they come back after every game home and away, plus the opposition on home matches, but our footfall has increased by them using the pub to watch matches midweek, especially the Champions League.”
- Whether you have lofty ambitions to form a club or just want to give your locals the chance to get their boots on, now is the time to enter The BT Sport Pub Cup.
The tournament starts in May with 48 teams battling it out in heats at six major grounds:
- Loftus Road, QPR
- Goodison Park, Everton
- The Hawthorns, WBA
- The Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth
- Easter Road, Hibernian
- Hillsborough, Sheffield Wednesday
The winners will compete in the semi-finals at the National Football Centre, St George’s Park in Burton upon Trent for a place in the final at Leicester’s King Power stadium in June.
To register your interest or for further information on the event, visit btsport.com/pubcup