A Q&A with Chris Tuck from @NonLgeProgs
What’s the problem?
Dwindling sales, up-to-date news is available online, no volunteers to write the thing and printed anything is so… ‘Yesterday’. With this in mind it’s no surprise decisions are being made at FA and non-league level to make the production of printed programmes non-mandatory. For many supporters though, a printed programme is an intrinsic part of their match day experience. Supporters matter, so this matters.
Who’s got a solution?
I’m biased. I am a collector, love programmes and always will. I have twitter sites @NonLgeProgs and @SaintsProgs which extol the virtue of printed programmes past and present. I am however informed enough to know the factors involved. No one at the club has the time to produce the programme, high printing costs, mandatory adverts meaning more pages to print and of course those sales have been falling anyway. I understand this, bear with me.
Printed programmes; the future as well as the past?
In previous articles I have argued that printed programmes are not just a relic of times past. The future can still be bright particularly with college and university students needing experience in graphic design, sports journalism and photography. The printed programme can be the perfect outlet. There are numerous non-league sides producing programmes that do not run at a loss, it is achievable. People said vinyl and printed books were doomed, both are thriving again, be ahead of the curve not behind it.
Online is (part of) the answer!
Online programmes are fantastic. More supporters, sponsors and the worldwide community can view your programme and that’s great for everyone. If you have gone to all that work to put one together though, why not just print a few? Hartley Witney FC in Hampshire does just that. “Come early to avoid disappointment, when they are gone they are gone.”
But what about those printing costs?
Well you’ve already put together the online programme. If you really can’t afford to print whole copies why not try this? Just print the cover, page two, the inside back page and the back page. Make sure the salient info is there and print the ‘mini’ programme on one side of A4 and fold it in half. Black and white is fine. To print 50 on someone’s photocopier at work, that’s about £15 absolute maximum. Sell them for 30p each.
But the league insist if we print something it needs all the adverts
Some clubs say if they print out a ‘mini’ programme, the league/FA insist all the adverts need to be present in the printed version. I’d love to hear examples of that being enforced and would willingly contact the league concerned to challenge that thinking.
What’s the solution?
For clubs near the top of non-league why not follow Eastleigh’s lead, their £3 glossy programme cost a lot to produce, they didn’t stop doing a programme they just produced a slimmed down version for £1. For other clubs going ‘online only’ why not print a few? Or print a mini version. Why bother? Because Supporters matter, there isn’t much of game without us.
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