The latest Government announcement of lockdown measures has once again resulted in us having to put together a revised budget. We have swapped and changed budget forecasts depending on what COVID Tier we are in and even what division we will be playing in and we must once again repeat the exercise.
It now looks extremely likely that our pre-season programme will be played behind closed doors. The vaccination programme is hoping to ambitiously encompass the elderly and vulnerable by mid-February and we are told that we can expect another few weeks after that before immunity starts to kick in. I have read today that 90% of deaths will hopefully be eradicated by this first phase of roll-out, let us hope so.
Losing the friendly fixtures clearly has a big impact on our finances and it is yet another big hole that we must fill. Our financial predictions make for a very gloomy year with our forecast now currently predicting a six-figure deficit. It is up to the board of directors to put plans in place to think outside of the box, as we did last year, to help make up this shortfall. We are in the fortunate position of having a decent amount of cash reserves so, certainly for the short term, the club is not at risk and we also have the option of taking advantage of one of the Government backed loans.
Taking a loan is something I have been mulling over to take to the board. We have some ambitious growth plans, including digital screens, more outlets and office space throughout the ground. The loans aren’t just to save businesses but actively encourage pursuing your business goals and come with very favourable terms.
It is an exceedingly difficult balancing act judging whether to cut your cloth to the situation given all the uncertainty or speculate with expenditure that some would deem not necessary. The gambling man inside me leans to the latter but with me being on the bookmaking side of the gambling fence it teaches me to be controlled and understand risk.
Further financial distress came to the club over the Christmas period with the news that the roof at the Hindpool Road end of the ground had been condemned. Basically, it has been rusting away for decades and is now a danger to the public. Again, we have a choice; repair or remove. The former costs three times as much as the latter and we are already talking five figures. It pains me to say that it looks like we are going to have to remove the roof at that end. Given the restrictions likely to be imposed by COVID then we can’t take the option of having a section of the ground out of bounds.
If the roof is removed then our plan is that we make that end of the ground more appealing by having more outlets, including toilets. Hardly any of our supporters stand there and we need to take advantage of that space. With the sun shining in the summer it could well be that we could transform that end of the ground.
We need to keep our income streams ticking over even in these times, so just a reminder that we have bobble hats on sale in our club webshop, perfect for taking your exercise on the cold, dark, winter nights