Following last week’s announcement, we are really pleased that the National League’s consultation of member clubs in relation to the outcome for the 2020-21 campaign will result in Step One of the National League continuing. It’s really unfortunate for Step Two, North and South where the decision has been made to conclude the season and we do feel for those clubs who wanted to continue. This outcome protects some of the Competition’s integrity and rewards the efforts of all those clubs in the National League who have worked tirelessly throughout the season so far. Of course, we’re also delighted for our loyal supporters and our sponsors who have backed us during the turmoil of the past year.
However, this decision doesn’t come without its own financial implications for our Football Club. We are of course immensely grateful for the initial funding that was provided by the National Lottery during October, November and December of last year. The grant provided the security of being able to commit to player contracts, staff employment and actually being able to start the season. Many of you will be aware of the wholly unacceptable situation we are now faced with, with no more grant funding being available. This was not the understanding of all the 63 Clubs currently in the National League at the outset, in the event that we were still in a lockdown situation due to the serious situation surrounding the pandemic. Hopefully clarity in due course will be provided as to why we are faced with this situation. With no funding available to us during January and February, Club funds are now severely diminished. The ‘message’ now being delivered by the National League and Government is that only ‘loans’ are available going forward not ‘grants’, placing us in a difficult position. The grant funding so far received is significantly short of what is required to run the Club for the whole season, when the majority of our normal income streams are totally depleted. All of which is through no fault of the Club.
With this in mind we have taken the extremely difficult decision and the only route available to us now we know the season is to continue, to take a low cost loan from Sport England to protect the future of the Club. Sport England is the designated provider of loans for all the Clubs in the National League. This is of course a last resort given we’ve been debt free since 2008 and does not sit comfortably at all. The loan is required to ensure we can cover our fixed costs, variable operating costs, salaries for the rest of this season and any commitments to season ticket holders should we not have access to the Shay Stadium before the end of the season. The loan in part will also be required to protect the financial viability for the 2021/22 campaign if again we have to manage with a reduced capacity or commercial and sponsorship income is restricted due to the volatile landscape. We feel on balance this is the best option for the Club given the predicament we have been left in. We are certainly not alone making this decision.
Thank you once again for your incredible support, for bearing with us in this most difficult of seasons and fingers crossed for some normality over the coming months.
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