It may be 6 seasons since Exeter City escaped from the Conference, but the goings on is still of interest to many of its fans. Here we look at some of the teams that will be key players in the season, and a guess at which ones will struggle. The season starts this Saturday (10th August).
Finances as always will play a major part as many clubs gamble on a Football League place, or to avoid relegation. Much to everyone’s relief a new sponsor in Skrill was found and a TV deal signed with BT Sport. The latter helping to raise the profile of the league.
Kidderminster Harriers. Many tipsters favourite to win the league. Relegated from the Football League at the end of the 2004/05 season, they have had season of being the nearly men, but not made it. Faded badly at the end and finished 2nd, losing in their semi-final play-offs. My tip to be champions.
Forest Green Rovers. Spending the dosh as this club tried once again to get in to the Football League. Dubbed the village team, they’ve struggled in recent season to provide the consistency needed to challenge for promotion.
Luton Town. Surely they’ve been in non league football long enough? Not found it easy, and a change of manager towards the tail end of last season has meant a newish squad has been put together by John Still. Would expect a play off place.
Grimsby Town. Another team that has struggled to get out of non league football. Good home crowds should mean a good budget by Conference standards, but managers Paul Hurst and Rob Scott have had a good clear out. Can they find a string finish to the season to get in a promotion contest?
Barnet. Back in non league football, and off to play at a new ground, The Hive. New territory for Edgar Davids, can he make it work? Likely to be nearly men, but not quite good enough.
Other teams to watch.
Aldershot Town. Starting the season with minus 10 points will always make it difficult psychologically. Having only exited administration recently, manager Andy Scott has spent this week putting a team together, which includes former City player Mark Molesley. Need to gel quickly otherwise a relgation fight will be on the cards.
Alfreton Town. Small team with a smallish budget. Not going to be successful for them.
Lincoln City. Spent too much of last season struggling with relegation. I think this season will be similar.
Salisbury City. Back in the Conference having come up via the play offs. Despite improving the squad, a season of struggle beckons.
Braintree Town. The Essex side will be starting their 3rd season in the Conference Premier. Mid table so far, but this season will be harder for them.
First televised game will be at midday on Sunday 10th August and the Conference Premier league game between Cambridge United and FC Halifax Town. BT Sport will be showing the game.