07:30PM, Wednesday 20 January 2021
Marlow FC remain on a financially steady footing according to their chairman Terry Staines (left), despite having not played competitively for several weeks.
The Blues last competitive fixture was their FA Trophy match against Nuneaton Borough, which took place in between the two national lockdowns on December 8. Marlow lost the game 4-1 and Staines admitted that staging the game, even with fans allowed through the gate, left the club out of pocket.
Earlier in the season they managed to make it through a couple of FA Cup and FA Trophy rounds, which has helped financially and, although it’s been a challenging time, and a time when Staines has questioned the ‘club’s reason for being there, if they’re not playing football’. He says they’re likely to be able to survive till next season, with expenses having been reduced to a miniscule amount, but he’d rather the club was ‘thriving’.
There is little work currently taking place on the Oak Tree Road pitch and there’s been no need to pay players expenses, outside of their two contracted players. Staines is also adamant that matches should not resume at the Isthmian League level until supporters are allowed back into grounds and clubs can sell them food and drink. With this in mind he can’t see how the season can be completed on time, therefore leaving the league with little option other than to declare the season null and void once again.
“It’s an unreal situation with matches and training currently off,” he said. “The main cost for the club is the players’ expenses, but as there’s been hardly any games throughout this period, they are much reduced. We’re still trying to find out the exact situation relating to our contracted players. We want to find out what, if anything is payable, but you’re very lucky if you get through to the FA to talk about it. It’s a very difficult situation as it is in all walks of life.
“The club can apply for a grant at this time, but it may be a loan depending on the circumstances. Everything is quite a bit up in the air. We did get a grant at the beginning of lockdown from the council which has been very useful, but in our case it’s not so much the money going out, compared to the lack of money coming in. We played a game in between lockdowns against Nuneaton Borough in the FA Trophy and we ended up being out of pocket because Nuneaton weren’t able to bring fans with them and we weren’t allowed to have the bar open.
“Earlier in the season we got a couple of wins in the FA Cup and FA Trophy I’m glad to say. The income from those games has helped. But that was a long while ago.
“The day to day running of the club does not incur many expenses, we’re not having to pay for the pitch at the moment, but we’ll have to get that sorted at some point. However, in general, we’re not too badly off at the moment. We don’t think football should recommence until spectators are allowed in the ground at our level and we get the secondary income from food and drink sales.”
While he acknowledges many of Marlow’s younger players might be keen to get back to action as soon as they can, he doesn’t think it would be fair on them physically or mentally to make them play four or five games a week simply so the league can be completed in full. With there being little likelihood of the season resuming, he’s starting to think about focusing efforts on ensuring the club is ready to resume when the new season kicks off in the autumn.
“We are in a situation at this moment in time where we can survive through to next season,” he said. “But we don’t just want to survive, we want to thrive. Without football, a football club has a big problem trying to survive. If there is no football, what is the reason for it to be there?
“If something like this happens in the future, there will be this precedent to look back on and try to solve before things get too serious. But anything to do with football is not that important in the current context.
“When you get older you appreciate that. But when you’re playing you feel a bit differently about things.
“It’s good that they want to play again but I can’t see that it’s a good situation for them to be asked to play three games a week or more for instance. It’s just too much for them physically and mentally, and it anyone gets injured or whatever they’d miss a big chunk of the season.”