Curzon Ashton manager Adam Lakeland believes financial restrictions within non-league are a necessity if clubs are to provide sustainable futures for their communities and supporters.

By Amos Murphy

Adam Lakeland

Credit: Curzon Ashton Football Club

National League finances starting to spiral out of control

Despite his tender age, Curzon Ashton boss Adam Lakeland is one of the most experienced managers within the National League North, but the 37-year-old believes more has to be done to limit the amount of money clubs can spend.

In an exclusive interview with Non League Daily, Lakeland discussed the downsides of clubs “chasing a dream” of promotion:

“Issues start to come when clubs chase promotion and chase success, with individuals who throw money at finding promotion.

“There’s no guarantee that’s a long-term solution. If that success doesn’t come, or the individual gets bored and walks away, what kind of situation is the football club going to be left in?”

Connected by the same tram provider within Greater Manchester, Ashton is just a short journey from Bury – a town that was rocked when their football club was expelled from the Football League.

Pointing towards Bury FC as an example of why financial mismanagement is detrimental to the game, Lakeland expressed his wish for tighter restrictions to be introduced:

“There have got to be guidelines that clubs work within their means. Football clubs whether you’re at the top of the pyramid or down in non-league, they mean a lot to the people of communities, the volunteers and they’ve got to be properly looked after”.

National League North Curzon struggling to compete with clubs further down pyramid

For a long time, the figures being spent by clubs within the National League System (Step 1 and 2) have been rapidly increasing, as teams look to climb the divisions.

In last year’s annual general meeting, National League clubs votes in favour of introducing a salary cap, which would come into place at the beginning of the 2022/21 campaign.

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A move that would see some form of financial fair play rule brought into the highest levels of non-league, Lakeland has welcomed the introduction of a salary cap, but has also questioned whether more can be done to curb hefty transfer fees:

“It isn’t just at our level, but also at teams one, two, three leagues below. You see clubs paying big fees to sign players.

“That just makes the job of managers incredibly difficult, as you see lads dropping down the levels, but also players you’re trying to get to step up the levels are already getting paid well at the clubs they’re at”.

Improved quality across non-league pyramid a benefit of funding, believes Lakeland

Recognising this is something that has filtered down the football pyramid, the Curzon boss was also quick to point to the benefits increased revenue in non-league has led to:

“Since I first dipped my toe into non-league with Curzon a number of years ago, where it was then to where it is now, non-league has improved in so many aspects”

Credit: Curzon Ashton / Biddle of Nowhere Photography

“Clubs are operating more professionally, the facilities are improving, players are getting better, the fitness levels are up. I only see this trajectory continuing”.

Having arrived at Curzon in October 2021, Lakeland has enjoyed an impressive start to life in charge, despite operating with one of the division’s smallest budgets.

With the playoffs a realistic target for Lakeland and Curzon, don’t be surprised to see the Nash mixing it with non-league’s big boys next season.

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