There are few coaches in the modern game better placed to comment on the English football pyramid and the games’ grassroots than Danny Cowley.

In the space of just five years, the former Huddersfield Town manager went from splitting his time as manager of Concord Rangers in National League South and teaching P.E. at a school in Essex, to leading out the Yorkshire club in the EFL Championship. And all of this via an FA Cup quarter-final versus Arsenal.

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His rise in the game, and that of his trusted brother and assistant Danny, has been as successful as it has been fast. But it was in the lower leagues and further down the pyramid where Cowley shaped his coaching philosophy, notably in a seven-year spell at Concord where he took the Canvey Island-based side from the Essex Senior League to National League South.

“We have the greatest football pyramid in the world, don’t we?” Cowley told in an exclusive interview as part of the LMA Insight Series. “We should be so proud of that. You’ve only got to look at the National League South and North, tier six football, and there’s still 2-3,000 supporters at clubs like York City.”

Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the game at all levels, especially further down the pyramid where clubs survive almost month-to-month and rely heavily on gate receipts. The National League benefited from a government loan to allow them to continue to play without fans before they were allowed back into stadiums. However, clubs further down and in Tier 3 lockdown scenarios now must play behind closed doors.

Cowley’s plea to the authorities is to offer more support to these clubs and governing bodies that look after the sport around the country.

The former Lincoln City man said: “We’ve got to make sure that we keep putting the time and the energy and the funding into that area of the game. Whether that’s the facilities, the quality of pitches, or the development and quality of coaching and officiating.”

He added: “We know the more people we have participating at grassroots the more likely we are to find the top players for the pinnacle of the game. So it’s up to the people in the decision-making seats to put self-interest to one side and see the bigger picture and know that they hold a big influence here. They hold the purse strings but they need to keep making sure that they see the benefits in grassroots.”