Is Nobody Mourning Macclesfield?

On September 16, via a virtual court proceeding, Macclesfield Town Football Club, a small soccer team in the North West of England, was declared bankrupt. Now we can go into semantics. Macclesfield FC folded in 1896, too, and a team called Hallefield FC played at the same stadium for a few years before transforming into Macclesfield Town FC. And as Stefan Szymanski of Soccernomics regularly points out (great explainer on football finance here), football clubs themselves don’t go bankrupt, just the companies that adopt the name do.

But this was a football club thought to have formed in 1874, and for whom recorded match outcomes exist for 1876. Almost a century and a half of football in a small part of Cheshire, England.

More than that, football clubs are community organisations. They provide focal points for people to meet, but they provide so much more than that. They allow different generations to interact, they generate fond (and not so fond) memories of seasons, and matches gone by. Football clubs around the country provide events for elderly fans suffering from dementia, for example. They help turning around kids who have gone astray.

Anecdotally, local football clubs like Macclesfield Town, like Bury, Maidenhead United, Wycombe Wanderers, Crystal Palace, have the brand identity and trust built up to make a difference.

We can disparage the efforts as pittance compared to what Gareth Bale is about to earn at Tottenham, but the Premier League has a Charitable Fund, and the English Football League has its Trust, supporting community initiatives around the country.

But if football clubs go, will anything replace them that has the brand identity, the fan loyalty, the decades, even centuries of memories and shared identity, that can make a difference? What will the impact be on communities already ravaged by the Financial Crisis, Austerity, and now Covid-19?

Why is nobody mourning Macclesfield Town Football Club?

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