Stanley could slide without more help
PETER Marsden fears that Accrington Stanley could slide as far as the Conference North if they cannot secure more backing from the East Lancashire public – after reporting a net loss of £400,000 for the latest financial year.
Speaking at Stanley’s AGM, the chairman voiced his concerns for the club’s financial sustainability in the Football League, at a time when the Reds sit bottom of League Two with only one point from their opening eight league games.
A crowd of 2,180 watched Saturday’s home defeat to Rochdale but that was boosted by a large away following and Marsden has described attendances at the Store First Stadium this season as ‘very disappointing’ and on the verge of ‘heartbreaking’.
The Reds reduced ticket prices this season in a bid to boost gates but so far the move has not had the desired effect.
Stanley are currently up to date with payments to HM Revenue and Customs but draft accounts for the year ending May 31, 2013 show that the club made a net loss of around £400,000.
Although that was offset slightly by £50,000 of player sales, Marsden is concerned about how continuing losses can be rectified.
The Reds narrowly averted going out of business four years ago, when they had to hold an SOS appeal to raise funds towards a £308,000 tax bill.
“We are up to date with tax but there could be problems ahead,” Marsden said.
“I don’t want a repeat of the SOS situation, which would be deeply embarrassing and humiliating for me.
“I don’t want charity.
“I have put in £200,000 during my time as a director, and £100,000 between April and July this year so I feel I have done my bit. My shareholding is 10 per cent but I felt I had to lead by example.
“But I can’t keep putting in that sort of money because I have a family to support.
“Other members of the board have also put in £250,000 since last May.
“I travel 225 miles from London, setting off at 9am and getting back at midnight. Is it asking too much of the people in Accrington to come to two or three games and support us? Sometimes I feel like a lone voice.
“It would be a national disaster if anything happened to this club.
“Now is the time when people can do something.”
Marsden confirmed that the club’s wage bill had actually been increased to £670,000 this summer in an attempt to push for a top 10 finish and attract more supporters via good results on the field.
“We could have cut the budget by £350,000 this year but then we would have been certainties for relegation,” he said.
“We would lose the £240,000 solidarity payment from the Premier League and we would lose our Football League revenue.
“We get £360,000 a year from the Football League but if we were relegated we would only get £180,000 for one year.
“We would have to go part time and then there’s a real chance of being relegated to the Conference North.
“We wanted to increase the playing budget, hopefully get up to the top eight or 10 and get a feelgood factor around the club.
“After one point in the first few games that doesn’t look good but I still hope we can pick up points and start to do that.
“James Beattie was and is a universally popular choice for directors, supporters and players.
“I think performances are better than the results have shown.”
Marsden spoke to a number of potential investors during the summer and remains in contact with them, despite having no luck so far in his attempt to bring in new funds.
“Obviously the start we have made doesn’t help, although the points situation does highlight the financial situation,” he said.
Marsden and vice chairman Peter Shaw were due to speak to new Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey at Saturday’s game to ask the governing body to provide greater assistance to clubs in the lower reaches of the Football League.
“You see the abuse of money at a higher level in football and we are the antidote to that,” he said.
“It would be a real shame if we got into difficulty for the sake of £300,000 or £400,000 a year, which is pocket money to some clubs.”
Stanley have attempted to attract younger people to the club by offering free season tickets to 1,200 year six pupils in the area, but it was revealed that only 42 children had taken up the offer.
The Reds said they are also currently restricted by having only two full time administrative staff, following Rob Heys’ resignation after he admitted FA betting charges.
But Stanley are speaking to potential candidates to take over the day to day running of the club and are also conducting interviews to bring in up to three new commercial staff – believing that is pivotal to increasing revenue.
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