Non-League Football: Bold new venture for non-League players

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The semi-professional footballing fraternity has had some good news this month with the launch of the Non-League Professionals Association, an organisation which aims to match the service the Professional Footballers' Association provides to the full-time game.

The new body has been launched by Keith Williams, once a player with St Albans, Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted and a director of St Albans, but more recently a radio commentator. He has been involved in semi-professional football for over 30 years. "The PFA does a splendid job for full-time players but they are not geared to cater for the non-League game," Williams said yesterday. "We aim to fill that gap."

The NLPA provides insurance services, legal advice and financial planning guidance - and it has a large market to tap into. "More people are involved in non-League football than watch Premiership football every weekend," Williams said. "We have had a lot of interest from the clubs that we have approached so far. As soon as they realise that we are not a trade union trying to get involved in contract negotiations, they want to get involved."

Merthyr Tydfil, the Welsh club who have so far firmly resisted the idea of joining the League of Wales, show no signs of changing their minds despite a change of ownership. Ken Gunter and Barry Ebdon, partners in a security firm, have bought out the long-serving chairman John Reddy, and intend to back the club's quest to gain promotion from the Beazer Homes League back to the GM Vauxhall Conference.

Gunter and Ebdon have paid Reddy only pounds 20,000 for his shareholding, but the departing chairman is settling Merthyr's debts. The new regime will assume responsibility for the club's loan repayments. Gunter, a long- term supporter of the Penydarren Park team, is due to be replace Reddy in the chair.