An update from our chairman
I wanted to provide an update to fans on the current playing and financial situation given the continued uncertainty and the decision for the National League to continue.
As recently communicated, the club has now gone almost 2 months without any meaningful revenue whilst continuing to incur a full level of operating costs and we have applied to the DCMS for funding however unless this is in the form of a grant the club is facing some extremely difficult decisions to protect our financial viability.
We firmly believe that companies should only take loans either to fund working capital or because the loan is part of a pathway to future profitability. Taking a loan to cover operating costs without the reasonable expectation of future profits to make repayments is not considered an appropriate course of action by the Board, and is arguably reckless.
The club appears to have 3 main options regarding the remainder of the season.
1. Continue the season with the current playing squad, funded by incurring substantial loans which will have a highly damaging impact on the financial position of the club.
2. Explore furloughing the entire first team squad and field a team made up of players available at little or no cost to the club. Under this scenario, we will continue to incur costs relating to training, pitch maintenance, away travel, hosting matches etc. however our overall cost base will be reduced
3. Seek permission from the National League not to fulfil our remaining fixtures on the basis of protecting the future of one of its member clubs. To even consider this we would require clear guidance from the National League as to any consequences of this approach.
We understand that a number of other clubs are contemplating options 2 & 3 however as a proud club and founder member of the National League in its original guise of the Alliance Premier League, options 2 and 3 are hugely unpalatable to us, however unlike option 1, they do not risk the future of the club in its current form. Options 2 and 3 also clearly impact the sporting integrity of non-league footballs top tier, especially if this approach is taken by a number of clubs.
Regrettably we have already had to furloughed a small number of players simply because we cannot continue to maintain a full playing squad with little or no income. The consequence of operating without what we consider to be an appropriate squad size means that the use of rotation to protect our players becomes much harder and puts our players at risk of injury and fatigue.
Decision making in the current environment is incredibly difficult, and at times, feels almost impossible given the lack of clarity and the changing landscape. Having returned to the National League for the first time in 32 years this season, one of our principal aims was to ensure we maintained our status for next season. We are awaiting clarification as to what impact the decision to null and void the National League North and South divisions will have in relation to relegation from the top division.
Also, we unfortunately haven’t heard back from the National League in relation to a request for a delay to the ground grading deadline given the financial landscape and the impact of lockdown on the availability of materials and contractors and therefore we have commenced the required works which will run into many tens of thousands of pounds. At the start of the season the ground capacity was at 3982 awaiting confirmation from the local council. Following the first informal grading inspection by the league our capacity was reduced to 3855. This was because we had to introduce yellow hatched areas where no standing is allowed. This has led us to commission a new covered stand with a capacity of 200. This will raise our ground capacity to over the required 4,000 to remain in the league.
As a club we want to maintain our status as a National League club as well as the integrity of the league and our reputation as a senior non-league club however achieving all of the above is currently totally incompatible with ensuring the club’s financial stability.
We thank our supporters for their incredible continued support and ask you to continue to bear with us as we will continue to review our options. Hopefully we will receive an update from both the National League and the DCMS imminently to help ensure we take the best decisions for the club, our supporters and the league as a whole.