The email questioned our injuries and loan policy and then went on to mention low attendances. These issues are foremost in everyone’s mind at present so we felt the matter needed a good airing.
Chairman Tony Kleanthous wrote –
I understand the concerns of our supporters regarding some results lately but unfortunately, injury crisis is not just an excuse but the reality currently facing us. We have been plagued for two seasons now by a number of long-term injuries which is hampering our teams progress. These players are all on our books and have to be included in our squad budget submissions for the National League which we have to lodge as part of the rules.
We are therefore committed to the cost of these players and are also still carrying over a number of injured players from last season (for example, Harry Taylor, Mauro Vilhete, Dave Tarpey and Ricardo Santos) so the bill is quite staggering now. We, therefore, have the unusual situation whereby we have a more experienced team out injured than the team that is currently available for selection each week.
We could, of course, bring in more players to replace them. I already publicly stated that the footballing decisions lie with the Managerial team but in fairness they are hampered by the regulations. These prevent them from spending above our approved limit which is based on the yearly budget submitted to the National League. We already have one of the largest budgets in the entire division and are at the tip of our allowable expenditure so the Management team have to balance each signing carefully.
John Still successfully negotiated for Zak Jules to be brought in from Shrewsbury, which has definitely provided some much-needed cover, and I have offered him further support. However, we will probably only be allowed one or maybe two more signings by the NL at best and that would depend on whether we can get a fair deal from the loaning club.
There is also the added consideration of what will happen to loan players, who have to be here for a minimum time period, once our other players are fit again as this will then block the path of others playing.
We are certain that the Manager will continue to make decisions which he believes will benefit the Squad overall, for both the long and short term of the team, but I hope the above gives an insight into the difficulties we face and the frustrating balancing act we have to perform.
Regarding our attendances, I agree with supporters that figures have dropped since relegation. As is often the case, success on the pitch makes the greatest difference but to encourage support we continue to run a number of promotions alongside the fantastic value of our Memberships. For example, kids are able to attend 5 matches for £5, Terrace supporters were offered a 3 for 2 entry ticket, and Members can get 10% off tickets bought for friends and family. This is over and above the overall price reductions implemented at the end of last season.
The cost of players continues to rise at an alarming rate and we do all we can to keep the club sustainable, whether it be weddings, training camps, filming or event hire. I know some of this is an irritation, believe me, it’s hard for us as well, but we need to find a way to compete financially and The Hive’s activities are what’s holding everything together right now.
Our charity branch also continues to promote the club to local schools and organisations, bringing a group of new fans to each match. Of course, we are constantly reviewing our strategies and are always open to fan feedback. We would love to fill the ground but at the same time, we have to balance our budget with the National League.
One last clarification on the attendance point, I recently had a discussion with a supporter who asked why we don’t just make it free to everyone so we can fill the ground up. I would not object to this but the problem is our gate receipts in our playing budget would then be marked at zero and so we will not be able to attract any players unless they played for free! This is, of course, a very simplistic answer but again I hope this will demonstrate the juggling act we have here. No one takes a penny out of this Club so put simply, the more supporters turn up and spend here, the more there is available for the team.
I hope that the above helps to clarify our position and may we thank those of you that have taken the time to write to us at Tell Us.
Our sleeves are rolled up and we are working away to build a better club for you… together I’m certain we can get better and stronger.