Non League football coverage has been plunged into a state of managed decline over a period of many years by mainstream media.

A mix of local newspaper cost cutting and an influx of top heavy investment into the Premier League has led the way. But a renaissance is occurring, and independent content creators are doing the heavy lifting. 

Ever since the Premier League struck its first big TV deal in 1992, worth over £300 million, an enhanced focus has been placed upon it. So much so that the current Tv rights package for the top league sold for over £6.5 billion in 2023.

This has ensured that 270 games of Premier League football will be shown in the UK per year for the next 5 seasons. But where does this leave the rest of the football pyramid?

Compare these numbers to non league football coverage. Having signed a fresh deal to show the leagues, TNT sports shows around 25 games a season. Whilst this doesn’t sound bad on paper, when compared to 270, it is minute. Furthermore, these games are almost solely from the Vanarama National League, the top tier of English Non league football.

With very few of these clubs now having a dedicated journalist covering their games, coverage is sparse. In fact Reach PLC, have conducted mass layoffs in the last 24 months, with historic league clubs like Sheffield Wednesday and Notts County suffering, leaving little chance for the clubs further down the pyramid of Non League Football. 

But the huge gap in the market is getting filled. Where mainstream coverage is failing, fans have taken it upon themselves to ensure the void doesn’t remain empty.

A big part of this has been done by ‘The Non League Treatment Room’ podcast founders and hosts, Andy Cook and Lee Evans. Andy says he came up with the idea after having worked as as a physio and sports therapist for 11 years. 

“I’ve worked at multiple different clubs and Lee has been involved in multiple different facets, whether that be playing or coaching, but I always had this idea in my head and I just thought it could go somewhere.

My actual first idea came from streaming Football Manager, so basically I first started streaming an Atherstone Town save which gave me my first real taste for it.

But this then developed after listening to other alternative media sources like the ‘Ben Foster Podcast’ and I just thought you know what I could do this sort of thing.” 

It can often be argued that in modern day football, the human aspect is lost, with the top players now being treated as A-list celebrities by media outlets rather than ordinary human beings, and this is something which the podcast is looking to change, focussing on personal stories and the people within the game, and shining a light on the characters within the heart of non league football. 

“With the years I have had with doing Physio at clubs i have met so many people and when you are in that treatment room, you talk about anything, you get to know the players as a person and their life, especially if theyve got an injury, you end up spending a lot of time with them, you get to know where they have been, and their story in football.

“So after many years I decided to step down from my club role and had real motivation to do this idea because I thought to myself If i don’t do this now, I never will.”

And that is exactly what Andy has done, having completed two separate seasons and 24 podcast episodes, along with Lee. They are now preparing for season 3, with many more stories still to come. 

It’s not only podcasts that are having an impact upon the non league scene, for a sustained period, X (Formerly Twitter) has been allowing individuals to spread their content to an increasing amount of people.

One person that has taken full advantage of this is Tom Williams, who is now part of the @analystsbar team and recently co founder of the ‘notts to talk about’ podcast. Tom is more well known for creating in depth threads on X showcasing player’s from up and down the non league pyramid skills weaknesses and star qualities.

Given the positive reaction to his content, the creator has pushed his following to over 14 000, further proving to renowned interest levels in non league football. 

“It’s funny really, i first started doing the stats stuff after sitting through 10 seasons of Greys Anatomy with my Girlfriend and I just thought theres only so much of this I can watch. It is time to do something else.

“Notts County had just signed Tobi Adebayo and I didn’t know much about him, so I watched some video and just clipped my thoughts up to Twitter, not expecting much but people seemed to really like it.” 

This initial spark then gave him motivation to go further, giving him the idea to focus more on non league in general, and soon after this is exactly what he did. 

“A couple of months later, it was clear that the more and more I spoke about Non League, the more and more people were interested in what I had to say. So i decided to do a magazine style preview for the non league season ahead.

“In a way the complete lack of media coverage for the leagues helped me as there isn’t many previews done about it, so that helped it pick up a lot of traction.

“The level of interactions has been a pleasant surprise and it now leaves me always thinking of the next thing I can post, the next idea, and has got me to organise and keep a record of any non league content ideas have.” 

And its efforts like these which show the tide is slowly changing, with all the hard work of these creators resulting in recognition across the board.

Tom recently had the opportunity to commentate on Wealdstone vs Barnet, one of the National Leagues biggest derby fixtures. As well as this, despite only being in existence for six months, Andy and Lee’s podcast has flew up the charts, resulting in them winning the Bronze award for Non League podcasting at the prestigious Football Content Awards in December 2023. And Lee says the keen interest of the lower leagues was there for all to see. 

“When it came to these Premier League awards, not that many people were interested and some of the responses were interesting, there were boos as well as lots of banter going across the room, now when it came to our and other non league awards, it might be me being biased but the response was huge, the room would erupt.

“There was maybe 1 or 2 creators there representing big clubs but for non league they were there in abundance and that’s the thing that I recognised the most.” 

This just shows the true levels of the untapped potential in the lower league market, and where the decision to slash investment and cull the number of local dedicated sports journalists may be misplaced.

In fact Lee and Andy would go as far as saying that there is a lack of interest when it comes to Premier league content. 

“When we won our award, everybody turned around, there was lots of applause and endless people would be coming up to us saying well done, but when it was all these bigger clubs, people weren’t interested, they were absolutely not interested, and that for me speaks volumes and is also a form of validation for what we are trying to do here.” 

It is people like Andy, Lee and Tom who are helping to maintain and fight for the very foundations of the English game, which is the non league pyramid of football. Where more traditional news and media outlets choose to create an effective blackout, these content creators are more than happy to step in and have been incredibly successful in making sure the gap in the market is being filled.

The scene is growing and is showing no signs of slowing down, with increased amounts of creators across a range of Platforms, like Spotify, X, Tik Tok and youtube, there is no signs of slowing down.

Where other media outlets have failed, the fan led scene has succeeded, and is helping to ensure the non league game is getting the recognition it deserves.