Written by Samuel Turner |
According to the Cornish County Football Association, there are 400 FA affiliated football teams in Cornwall, despite this none of the 400 clubs registered with the Cornish FA are in the Football League (Teams that compete in the top 4 tiers of the English Football League pyramid. Nor are any professional. The lack of football league teams in Cornwall is not just a recent phenomenon. No Cornish team, in football history, has ever played at football league level altogether.
“No Cornish team has ever played at football league level altogether.”
Currently, the biggest football team in Cornwall and the only team to have won a national trophy in the form of the FA Vase in 2007 is Truro City. Truro City currently plays their trade in the 6th tier of English Football (the National League South), playing the likes of Eastbourne Borough and Gloucester City. This is of course only 2 promotions away from the football league; so, what are the obstacles preventing Cornish clubs from competing in the Football League?
There are three main factors that I’ve come across:
Cornwall has a very dispersed population, making it one of the least densely populated counties in the UK. The county is built up of small towns ranging from Cambourne to St Ives, all having populations under 40,000; resulting in Cornish clubs struggling to attract enough fans to generate significant gate revenue. Another stumbling block to clubs is Cornwall’s remote location; clubs would have to use more of their budget on transport to get to and from away matches then other football teams, this draws vital funds away from the clubs.
2. Devon’s professional clubs
Historically Cornwall has never had a football league team, leading many football fans in Cornwall to support professional football teams such as Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City in nearby Devon. This means money that could be going to Cornish clubs is instead going to the clubs in Devon. Furthermore, many of the best young Cornish footballers seeking to progress their careers usually get snapped up by Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle due to their bigger reputation and better facilities than any clubs in Cornwall. One great example being Torpoint born current Southampton midfielder and X England Under 21 Jack Stephens, who was signed up by Plymouth at the age of 11, meaning he has never played for any Cornish side.
Cornwall has a distinct lack of adequate football Stadiums. Currently, there is no stadium suitable to support a football league team. In fact, Truro City (the highest ranked Cornish football team) are playing their home games in east Devon, sharing the Plainmoor with Torquay United due to the recent sale of Treyew Road (Truro) to developers. This puts a hold on Cornwall’s best hope of getting a team in the football league, losing ticket sales with fans (understandably) not willing to make the 225Km round journey to watch them play.
“Despite the setbacks, there are plans in progress to build ‘The Stadium of Cornwall’.”
Despite the setbacks, there are plans in progress to build ‘The Stadium of Cornwall’. This new stadium will provide a 10,000-capacity stadium for Truro City as well as the Rugby Union side Cornish Pirates. The stadium site is located approx. 4km west of Truro in the town of Threemilestone, surveying work has already started at the site, however, no date has been given for completion of the ground. It is a multimillion-pound investment that will provide a platform for Truro City to progress up the football ladder as we have seen with another stadium development. For example, Swansea City’s progress after the building of the Liberty Stadium.
Moreover, the introduction of non-league days – encouraging people to attend local games by highlighting how entertaining non-league football can be – is helping local clubs attract fans and a much-needed financial boost for Cornish clubs to progress up the football pyramid.
Though many factors are working against the prospect of a Cornish Football league team, the tides are changing, and Cornish football league team can be seen on the horizon. But for the time being at least, Cornish football clubs will continue to remain in the depths of non-league football.