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Saturday, August 01, 2020

Donations Will Help Gowling's Budget

A few weeks ago Hereford FC asked for donations to help pay for pitch preparations, yesterday it asked for donations to boost manager Josh Gowling's budget.

On the surface it seems incredible that a club which had £589,591 in the bank on May 31st 2019 has been reduced to asking for donations before a ball has been kicked in the 2020/21 season.

However no-one could have forseen the financial impact of Covid-19 on lower league football.

How much Covid-19 has cost Hereford FC to date is difficult to estimate. One shareholder suggested around £100K so far and rising.

Whatever the amount, the loss of four home games at the end of last season and a couple of pre-season friendlies will have cost around £50K in lost revenue.

Costs have been lessened to some degree with the club able to take advantage of several Government schemes including, in particular, the government’s job retention scheme to put some employees on furlough. For a couple of months only the football secretary remained at work. And that partly because of a National League rule.

But as the start of the forthcoming season approaches, more staff are back at Edgar Street. Sponsors and advertisers have to be contacted to see if they will continue to support the club. Their income is vital at the time when little else, other than shirt and mask sales, is coming into the club. 

To date it is reported that over 30 sponsors have 'committed' to next season. Hopefully they and many others will turn that committment into cash. But that cash may be less in total than last season given the pressure on some businesses.

It is not known whether the players already signed for the coming season are being currently paid. Usually by this stage they would be but there may be clauses in their contracts curtailing some of their wages until the season gets under way. And, again, after last season came to an end in early March, there may be clauses which would lessen the burden on the club if the season is stopped because of Government regulation. Not easy on the players but at times like this there has to be some leeway.

Yesterday the Government announced that in England plans to ease regulations next week were to be put on hold for at least two weeks. In particular trials to allow supporters into a couple of big sporting events have been postponed. This could all impact on supporters being allowed to watch football. At present National League clubs are set to start the new season on October 3rd with clubs like Hereford playing an FA Cup fixture. Limited numbers of supporters were expected to be able to watch these games. 

It now looks possible that these games, assuming they go ahead, may take place behind closed doors denying clubs vital gate money. In truth nobody knows. But realistically it's probably prudent to factor this into any budget plans for this season. 

Hereford FC can not afford to lose money on the scale of last season whatever happens this time. If it does there will be little or nothing left in the bank. The initial shareholders investment along with HUST's purchase of shares, which in total is around £500K, will be gone.

The club has to try to match income to expenditure however difficult that might be. And after the costs of running Edgar Street much of remainder of the expenditure is on the manager's budget.

The directors have to set Gowling's budget at a level that allows him to compete in the league. It's never easy but this season is especially difficult given all the unknowns.

Supporters wishing to donate to help 'Boost The Budget' can do so by going to: