Non League Daily

Editor Luke Donkin Speaks To Michael Owen About BT Sport's Conference Premier Coverage Editor, Luke Donkin, speaks exclusively to Liverpool legend Michael Owen regarding BT Sport's coverage of the Vanarama Conference Premier. The interview with Michael can be found below:


Do you believe that BT Sport covering Conference Premier Football will help generate more interest in the non-League game?

I think so, I think the more coverage we can get of non-league football, the better really. Obviously I've been down to Chester today and done some filming and preview for the season ahead, and we're going to be broadcasting the Chester vs Wrexham game at the start of the season. So I think there are some big games in the Conference, I think it's a very good standard and it's going to be very competitive. The more coverage the better really, I'm delighted to be part of that as well because Chester are my local club so it's an exciting time for us all.


With so much money being spent within the Premier League in recent years, do you believe this has influenced more people to watch non-League football where it is less money-orientated?

Football is our number one sport, and we watch football regardless. It is of course great to see the best players in the Premier League in full stadiums; it's what we all love. But I think just about everyone has an interest in leagues lower down the pyramid, we all have either a Conference side or someone further down on our doorstep and I do think that people like to go and support their local team. When I was younger my dad used to take me to Chester on a regular basis and there's a real connection with the club, and most fans will have a team in the Premier League and someone else as their local team. I'd strongly urge fans to go and watch their local team.


With BT Sport showcasing the Conference Premier, potential stars for the future can be picked up by club scouts or representatives who are watching a televised game. Is this another advantage for Conference Premier Clubs?

I definitely think it is the finances that are brought into a club with a televised game. Clubs get a chance to show how good their team are, and it gives managers a chance to put their stars in the shop window. Everyone wants to play at the highest level, and when you're on a live BT game you're going to be reaching out to a lot of people.


Several clubs such as Eastleigh and Forest Green Rovers have spent a lot of money during the close season at this level, will this mean that the league will be very competitive and therefore generate interest from more people?

The league is always very competitive, and I've always got great respect for any football who earns a living from the game because it's such a competitive world (is football). You must have a good realm of ability, so I think it's a really competitive league and people are always fighting to get out of it and fighting for moves to bigger and better club. So there will be plenty of money sloshing around, and I know that one or two teams go out and try to win promotion from the league by spending a lot of money on new players, and this year will be no different.


Your hometown club Chester FC are very much a rising phoenix after a very successful start since their formation, do you believe they will be pushing for more honours this season?

It was a big sigh of relief, and a stay of execution after getting reinstated within the Conference. I think nobody really knows, if you ask any Chester fan they will probably say if we finish mid-table and have some solidarity back into our club, then everyone connected to the club will be delighted. So many players have departed, I think there's only four or five who were there last year who are still there, and so it's a real question mark season. Hopefully we can consolidate, have a good season and establish ourselves back in the Conference and then work on to get ourselves back to where all Chester fans believe they should be (League Two). It's been a really tough few years for the fans because it's OK getting relegated and going one league lower but Chester were demoted a few leagues, and it's been a long few years. A new club was formed by the fans, so it's been a turbulent few years and yet again they're playing at a decent level and hopefully we reach the Promised Land that everyone is wanting. I think this year it's all about consolidating ourselves into the league again after the disappointment of last year, despite getting a reprieve.


Finally, who do you believe is going to win the Conference?

I think Gateshead, after their excellent turnaround last season to reach the Play-Off Final.


“BT Sport will show up to 30 exclusively live games from the Vanarama Conference this season including the Promotion Final at Wembley. BT Sport is free with BT broadband, to find out more visit

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