03:02PM, Thursday 22 October 2020
Slough Town and Maidenhead United this week found out exactly what share of the £10m support package they’ll receive from Government.
The money is being distributed by the National League on an average attendance basis, meaning that former football league clubs will receive a larger share of the pot.
Chesterfield, Hartlepool United, Notts County, Stockport, Torquay, Wrexham and Yeovil will all receive £95,000 a month, with the other 16 National League clubs – including Maidenhead United – receiving £84,000.
In the National League North and South, most clubs – including Slough Town – will get £30,000 a month, although Chester, Dulwich Hamlet, Hereford, Maidstone and York will receive £36,000 a month on the same distribution model basis.
The Government has come to the club’s aid after preventing the return of supporters to matches for elite level clubs. National League games are currently being played behind closed doors and the money clubs will receive is set to offset lost match-day income. The first of the payments of National Lottery funds is scheduled for next week. The grant money will cover a three-month period, so Maidenhead United will receive £252,000 and Slough Town £90,000.
Reflecting on the news, Slough’s joint boss Neil Baker said: “We’re probably one of the few clubs that are fairly neutral on this. We’re still losing out, but listen, we can’t be moaning at that. Put it this way, there are clubs that have done brilliant out of it, no question, and there will be clubs that have done poorly out of it.
“I don’t think how they’ve done it is the fairest way because if you’re in step one you get pretty much three times what clubs are getting at step two. I think it needed to be more to do with crowd numbers, but I guess it’s just a very difficult situation.
“But what people have to remember is that these clubs, including ourselves, have gone six months without any income. Yes, the costs are lower when the football is not on, but there are still costs. From our point of view, if any of our fans are thinking they can now go out and spend that money then they’ll be mistaken.
“The most important thing is that the clubs are still there at the end of this season, this year, whatever it might be. This is a season where I think we’ve just got to get through it and hope coronavirus has dissipated next year and we can go into a normal season next year. This season is going to be an anomaly and we as a club just have to get through, do as well as we can on the pitch, behind closed doors, and just make sure the club is in good shape come next season.”
Baker added that there’s still no guarantee of further funds from Government after the three months have elapsed.
“What happens if they turn around and say we can’t get that funding now,” he said. “And fans still aren’t allowed in. That’s what we’ve got to be wary of. There is still so much uncertainty. But we’ll have to cross that bridge as and when we come to it. That’s the concern for football really.
“But we’re the ones that have been closed down here. The simplest solution all along was just to allow fans back in. Allow them to socially distance on the outside and we wouldn’t be having these conversations. But that’s the Government’s decision.
“Boreham Wood will have done fantastically out of this, they average something like 770, of which three or four hundred would probably have been on £99 season ticket deals. They will have done fantastically. But Maidstone and Dulwich in our league, they won’t have done well. You only have to look at Hungerford and Dulwich and there’s a six-grand variance over the course of a month. But Dulwich would get closer to an average of 2,500 fans a game and Hungerford 350. Hungerford would say they’ve lost takings from the bar, but Dulwich are in the same boat. That’s where it’s not fair. I feel sorry for Dulwich and Maidstone in our league and Chester and York in the National League North. I don’t think they’ve been catered for. But from our point of view it’s about right. If you look at the stats and the graphs the variance is fairly cost neutral for us. Some clubs have been let down and others are very happy with this decision.
“I’ll be surprised if that changes now, but you never know at the minute both in football and in life. We’ll keep our heads down and we’re thankful to the National Lottery because it enables us to keep playing and trading and staying alive. But what happens beyond that is anyone’s guess.”
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