Funding success?

As well as what has been happening off the field I wanted to write about some of the decisions and struggles we deal with as we try to give Gordon as good a budget as we can, in order to be competitive in this year’s Ryman Premier League.

Let’s face it, last season’s near miss from the play-offs and the FA Cup run should encourage us that it shouldn’t take much more for us to achieve greater success this season. The apparently marquee signing of Scott Fitzgerald and the other notable signings help build the expectation.

We all read about other Clubs in financial troubles, cutting their budgets. We also know that there are more players than ever before available as the pro clubs particularly let more and more promising players go. Remember though some of our opponents can make some fairly significant cuts to their budgets but still comfortably pay more than us. It just shows what the gap was before.

It wasn’t just the performance on the field that was good last season, our financial performance was exceptional. As always with a Club budget some things were much better than expected (FA Cup prize money being an obvious example) but other things did not perform as well as hoped, such as our commercial efforts in a particularly difficult market and even the lack of Saturday games meaning crowds and income down on what they might have been. However, prudent management meant we more or less broke even last season, for pretty much the first time in many many years (other than the year Jermaine was sold to Leeds). You can see the important role 100:400 played last season.

Our goal at the end of last season was to keep the budget at the same level as last season. When we set the budget we knew that we could not confirm that we could continue to afford this level of investment through the season. This is a worry. We have built up an excellent reputation among players as a club who always pay players on time and who have never thrown money at the start of the season and then cut the playing budget hard after the FA Cup exit. We treat people the right way and as a result players are interested in us even if we can’t compete with some of the other offers they receive.

Some generous donations meant we could confirm to Gordon that we would achieve the playing budget that we wanted and, according to our forecasts, have some money in the bank for the start of next season. Our goal is now to raise both the amount that will be there for the start of next season and we are working hard to do that, as well as – if we can – the playing budget for this season.

I’ve said previously that after 100:400 last year I didn’t want the Club to ask Supporters to put their collective hands in their pocket so soon. I am acutely aware of how difficult it is for many people and the Club has no right to expect people to keep supporting the team with extra cash. However, by the same token, I’ve also regularly said that we are one of the original ‘fans’ clubs so to some extent the quality of the team on the field will always be impacted by how much supporters want to help. In that vein, I am delighted that Dominic and Jez amongst others have launched TaskForceTen. The money they raise will be a big help to the team Gordon can put out – and it is genuine supporter led activity for which we are very grateful.

The Club works very hard to generate funds. There are certain monies we need to have simply to run a football club at the level we are, keep the stadium in reasonable working order etc. Most of the money we receive is earmarked for the playing side – this is the way it has always been and will always be – there should not be any doubt about this, though we must continue to be prudent and not chase success that cannot ever be guaranteed.

We continue to be tough on costs and without wanting to sound like a broken record it is all about income. The more we can raise commercially, through the gate or through other means ultimately the more we can put into trying to have a successful team.

It is a constant balancing act – and ultimately it is about trying to raise significant new income streams. This is easier said than done but I am content that we are mobilising as many people as we can to give this a very good go. If anyone else has some ideas or some time and can help generate more income please come and talk to me. I believe Gordon has the budget to fashion a competitive team this season, and I am excited to start watching them tomorrow night. See you there.

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