‘National-Conference’ rebrand excites Harrogate Town boss

Harrogate Town winger Jack Emmett (Photo by Craig Hurle)

Harrogate Town winger Jack Emmett (Photo by Craig Hurle)

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Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver anticipates a multitude of benefits for non-league football when a television deal takes place next season.

The Football Conference announced plans on Bank Holiday Monday to transform the top regions of English’s semi-professional game and undergo a major rebrand.

The Conference, and Conference North and South, divisions will be known as the National League from next season.

The changes were announced live on BT Sports, with the television company confirming a three-year TV deal to show live matches and highlights.

The Football Conference will also launch new online football channel National League TV, solely focusing on the 68 member clubs – of which Harrogate Town are one.

“It sounds quite exciting,” he said Town gaffer Weaver.

“It terms of highlights, we always say there is no coverage of this level. Hopefully, with the new highlights packages, it will extend to the Conference North.

“It should put this level of football up a great deal in terms of publicity.”

Former FA chief executive Brian Barwick will head up the National League as its incoming chairman.

He said: “I am delighted to be joining at this vibrant time with this exciting new branding. I look forward to steering this great competition to new levels of awareness and visibility.”

Weaver hoped the new deal would boost popularity in the league, which in turn would increase attendances.

He added: “With more exposure, people can see the quality that’s on offer in this league. It surprises many people. A lot of people still think non league football is in the dark ages, but actually, there’s a lot more quality as players filter down the leagues.”

Town’s dip in form throughout the season has seen crowd numbers drop, despite a rise in noise from spectators at the CNG Stadium.

A full coach of supporters will travel to prosperous Oxford City on Saturday, a side that has more than six Spaniards in their squad.

“We have to go and get a result for them,” said Weaver.

Town have endured a miserable away record this season, with only three wins in 19 matches – a statistic Weaver struggled to explain.

He said: “The effort has been there from us but we still need to man up and get results. The away record has just not been good enough to be challenging.

“I don’t just want survival mode away from home. We have to play with a bit of nous.”