Written by Ian Hope:
Welcome to our new feature where we round up some of the weekends main talking points from around the leagues in football.
On Saturday, Salford City Football Club played their first game in League football in front of the Sky Sports cameras. To appreciate the meteoric rise of the Ammies, rewind five years ago and Salford City were playing in the Northern Premier League, the 7th tier of English football. Four promotions in five years have seen Salford City rocket to League Two.
Where a couple of hundred people may have huddled on an old and dilapidated ground, this weekend some 1900 season tickets holders took their seats in a renovated stadium that holds just over 5000 people. Average attendances last season rose to 2,500 from 1,600 the season before. This season the likes of Bradford City will visit along with Leeds United in the Carabao Cup. There will be derby games against Oldham Athletic. All unimaginable several years ago.
Salford City match reports used to be in the sports pages of the Salford Advertiser, a free local weekly newspaper delivered around the city. Now the national media will descend on Moor Lane, Salford.
With that dream scenario comes a jealousy from outside of the city due to the billionaire that backs the club in businessman Peter Lim. Add the ex-Manchester United contingent in the Class of 92 and there is a clear “love or hate” feeling toward the Ammies.
Having said that, you cannot argue with the way the club has been developed. Youth development, women`s football team, reasonable ticket pricing and match day experience are all positives that often get over looked when discussing Salford City.
There are the valid criticisms over players wages which appear to be far from an even keel with clubs in their previous divisions. However, when you see how the likes of Salford`s neighbours in Bolton Wanderers, Oldham Athletic and Bury FC have been mis-managed by their owners there is a lot to be said for the positive way the ownership at Salford is run.
The bookies have Salford second favourites to be promoted this season to League One. That may sound optimistic but consideration must be given to the fact their manager, Graham Alexander has experience of promotion from League Two with Fleetwood Town. Salford have recruited well during the pre-season and should they need reinforcements in the January window, money will be available.
Come 3pm, Salford were sitting pretty at the top of League Two after a 2-0 win over Stevenage before the rest of the league kicked off. The first hurdle has been overcome, it will be a long old season and will be interesting where Salford end up come May.
Five miles separate Gigg Lane and Moor Lane the homes of Bury and Salford, yet at this moment in time both clubs appear to be going in very different directions.
As Salford lap up the positive national media, Bury are in the media for all the wrong reasons. Spare a thought for Bury supporters who come Saturday afternoon were envious of every other football fan who were tweeting about the opening day of the season whilst their game had been cancelled by the EFL.
In fact, the EFL have now cancelled Bury`s second league game of the season away at Accrington Stanley as the league have not had the assurances that Bury can pay their creditors. The whole thing is a sorry mess, one which could be a domino effect with other football clubs.
Recently Macclesfield Town were struggling to pay their playing staff, so whatever happens to Bury we could see others possibly going to the wall which would be sad for football in general.
The inevitable arrival of Harry Maguire to Old Trafford for a whopping £80m just shows the huge difference in the haves and have nots in English football. If only the money in football would filter better down to the lower leagues. Sadly, the richest get richer and the poorer become worse off.
When you talk about the woes of Bury FC, you cannot escape their neighbours Bolton Wanderers and the financial troubles the Trotters have been going through. Yet come Saturday, some 1800 Bolton fans made their way down to Wycombe to support their side. With only three senior players in the team and supporters wondering who would be wearing the white shirt you have to applaud the efforts of those supporters who made the 7 hour round trip.
With the completion of Football Ventures takeover of Bolton finally expected on Monday, Sharon Brittan from Football Ventures was present in the stands on Saturday. Manager Phil Parkinson stated this weekend the takeover “cant come soon enough”.
Parkinson went onto say “All I can say is that Sharon came up to the hotel today. I’ve met her a couple of times and whatever happens in terms of myself and the staff going forward, I’m telling you now, Sharon Brittan will be outstanding for Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
“She’s just what the club needs.”
There are rumours that signings are lined up for Bolton pending the takeover being secured but Ched Evans is not one of them as he is likely to sign permanently for Joey Barton`s Fleetwood Town from Sheffield United.
Everyone concerned with the Trotters wants this protracted takeover finalised so that football and not business can be what supporters talk about this season.