We caught up with club chairman Toby Macormac for an update on the Yellows.
What are your feelings following the premature end to the season?
It feels like it’s something every year. We had the Shaw Lane and North Ferriby issues, we had the super play-off last year and now this. Something different seems to be stopping us getting where we want to be.
It makes me rethink my position within the club. I have put that much money in myself, it’s only now when you get time and sit back and look at it and you go back to 2013 when I first started putting money in, I’ve put in a high-end six figure sum. When I look back at what I could have done or could be doing with that money, it does make you think. You think ‘what’s going to happen next season and the season after’ knowing how hard next season and the season after are going to be, do I want to do it all again? For pretty much no return. I’m not in it for the return, I’m in it for the progress of the club and to give the town something it desperately needs. But when it’s starting to affect you personally, then you’re going to re-think.
What were your thoughts on declaring the season null and void?
From my point of view, it had to be done. If we had to restart the season in June, we wouldn’t have survived as a club. When you look at the table, clubs could get relegated from non-relegation positions and that can spike a legal challenge just as much as from someone who won the league. People say null and void rewards failure, but whichever way you go, there was always a wrong answer.
What is the financial impact on the club?
From my calculations, it’s around a £70,000 impact on the club. We’ve got absolutely nothing coming in. The season ended was compounded by the social club closing, which helps fund the football outside of the season. The entire place is in lockdown. We had four games to go, including South Shields, so it’s had a really big impact and that hole continues until next season when revenue starts coming back in. With the best will in the world, you can’t fill a £70,000 hole, and that’s from March based on my estimates on when things are going to re-start.
Then of course there is the fact that sponsorship budgets are going to be affected, so that could make the hole even bigger. It’s definitely had a huge impact on us and what we’re doing – we’ve lost so many revenue streams, from sponsorship, gate money, bar takings, even decent sized pre-season games, 3G pitch revenue, it goes on.
How have the players responded to the situation?
The players have been really understanding of the situation. They know where we’re up to and how it’s affected the club. The players within the club know how it’s run, they know how I run and how it gets steered, so they’re well aware of the impact, probably better than players at most clubs. We keep in touch with everyone through What’sApp and the manager has done a great job of keeping everyone together.
It helps with their understanding. The players have become part of the club, and we’ll be doing the best we can to invite them back. Player terms are going to be different to last year and hopefully we can make arrangements. Some will be a year older and maybe not suited to playing at this level, but what we have to be aware of is coming out of COVID-19, players might be in a precarious financial situation themselves and if they can get a club to give them a better deal, then that’s just part of the game. It might only sound like £50 a week, but over 38-40 weeks, that’s quite a lot of cash.
Where are you at with players for next season?
It’s tough to say at the moment. We can’t offer the terms we offered last year and we’ve been dead honest with players and told them that. We want everyone to stay together, and do everything we can to do that. It’s going to come to a point where we’re going to have make some decisions further down the line.
How has the manager dealt with the situation?
Cards has been phenomenal. He already cares about everything the club does, he cares about me personally, because he understands what I put myself through to get the club where it needs to be. He’s never once talked about finances the last few weeks, aside of how are we getting on, are we managing to stay afloat.
Aside of budget being drastically reduced, he’s just been cracking on. On the player side, phones have been quiet and speaking to other clubs and managers, they’ve said the same. No one really knows what’s ahead. All clubs are run in different ways, with different committees and funding models; we’re in the position where it doesn’t take three or four meetings to get a decision made, which will hopefully help. Everyone is going to have some sort of problem, and some clubs across the pyramid have already asked to take voluntary relegation because they can’t compete, so are cutting their cloth to suit.
How does the success of the recent years and the reputation of the manager help when putting a squad together on a lower budget?
When you ring players that you wouldn’t normally ring, you know you can ring off the back of it’s Paul or Warrington Town that’s calling. It opens up other avenues. Some of the players we’ve signed in recent seasons are National League North players. It’s not about the cash, it’s about the surroundings you’re giving them. We’ve got all the right gear, a grass training facility with no time limit and we have aspirations to do big things outside of 90 minutes – and that’s what they all buy in to.
Are there any plans to do any development work in the ground?
There’s the possibility of some ground grading changes ahead, which will have another financial impact on us because we’ll need to get some work done. It’s something that’s on the horizon that we need to be aware of, and it’s not linked to promotion; it’s linked to our current ground grade. You can’t change your attitude and work rate towards how a ground conforms, once you start scrimping on that side of the budget, the ground falls in to disrepair and you face the prospect of enforced relegations. We must keep on top of that, the budget can’t affect that, we must keep the club running the right way, and that comes first before the playing budget.
What sort of work might be needed?
Some things will need adding. The changes are around capacity certificates and the way capacity calculations are done, which could reduce our capacity. So we’ll need work to be done. It won’t be cheap, as it’ll be structural.
How does that help future proof the club and what does it mean for the home of the club moving forward?
We’re still working hard and we’ve got discussions going on with parties outside the ground about what we can do facilities wise. They really only work hand in hand with promotions, because that kind of thing needs bigger crowds. You’re not going to construct something if crowds are sub-1000.
It’s still a possibility. If we do some tasks on the list to get to a National League North grade, which isn’t far away, we’ll need maybe £50-£100k to get the work done to make it a consistent National League North ground and above. A lot change in football with budgets, ground grading and the game itself – so who knows if the current footprint will still do it.
What can be done to help generate much needed funds for the club?
We have a few initiatives in the pipeline. The key ons is that we need more people in the ground, we need more season ticket holders and we need people who will be there every week. We’re looking at doing a stadium naming rights raffle where anyone and everyone can enter it, which will give the winner the stadium naming rights for a season. Looking further down the line, a crowdfunder page may be needed to help with the stadium work.
If you have any ideas for fundraising efforts during this difficult period, please email firstname.lastname@example.org