At the Vanarama National League AGM & Gala Dinner, held at the Celtic Manor in Newport on Saturday, the League announced several items of interest.
There was the three-year extension to Vanarama’s title sponsorship of the competition and this was followed by the news that BT Sport would also be extending their broadcast agreement for a further three-years.
Viewing figures from live Vanarama National League matches on BT Sport are on the rise as well. There has been a 55% increase to average viewing figures compared to two seasons ago. This includes a record audience for the Vanarama National League Promotion Final between Boreham Wood and Tranmere Rovers – which was put at over 300,000 viewers.
The new deal allows for up to 32 live matches, including play-offs. The highlights show will continue to be aired and also likely to be available via Freesports, as well as YouTube. There was also mention of the possible opportunity for live international streaming, although further details will follow.
Information was also presented to the clubs on the participation of Boreham Wood and Sutton United in the IRN-BRU Cup during the 2018/19 season. They were nominated as the two teams that finished highest in the league but didn’t gain promotion. They will come in at the second-round stage, in September, and be guaranteed Scottish opponents for their first game.
Fixtures in The National League will be released on Wednesday, 4 July, with the season getting underway on Saturday, 4 August.
There will be four games over the Christmas period, Saturday 22 December, Wednesday 26 December, Saturday 29 December & Tuesday 1 January. While Easter fixtures will be on Friday 19 April and Monday 22 April, with the season ending on Saturday, 27 April.
The Play-Offs will continue in the present format with six clubs involved and the final being held at Wembley on the weekend of 11/12 May.
Clubs will also be allowed to use one arm of their playing shirts for additional kit advertising space, as per the Premier League, with the Vanarama NL decal continuing to be displayed on the right sleeve.
Live TV games will also feature LED pitchside adverting boards.
Gala Awards Evening
All six promoted clubs from the three divisions took to the stage to collect their trophies and share their experiences of a memorable season across the competition.
In the Manager of the Year category, the four league championship-winning managers, John Askey (Macclesfield Town), Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson (Salford City) and Lee Bradbury (Havant & Waterlooville), claimed prizes for their achievements during the campaign.
Elsewhere, Sutton United’s Tony Henderson-Smith became the first winner of the Volunteer of the Year, an award created to help recognise those unsung heroes helping clubs within The National League.
Awards were also presented to Torquay United, Brackley Town and St. Albans City to mark their efforts towards fair play and respect within The National League.
Programme of the Year went to Gateshead, with Boston United and Wealdstone winning the North and South awards.
Finally, Eastbourne Borough won The National League Trust’s Best Community Project award.