FA must act now says Potters Bar Town chairman as coronavirus gets set to ‘affect football for a while’
PUBLISHED: 10:55 24 March 2020 | UPDATED: 10:55 24 March 2020
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Potters Bar Town chairman Peter Waller has admitted the club are already feeling the pinch of the coronavirus suspension and has called on the FA and the leagues to find help as soon as possible.
The Isthmian League Premier Division club are not one of the division’s big spenders.
They have an average crowd of just over 200 this season and rely on that match-day attendance plus takings over the bar to support them over the season while a popular beer festival provides much-needed income over the lean summer months.
All of that has dried up and yet there are still bills to pay, water, electricity and the like.
“It’s very hard at the moment as all our income has stopped,” said Waller.
“The bar has closed as we were told although there were very few people in anyway [in the last week]. The gate income from our remaining games isn’t coming in and we’ll probably have to cancel the beer festival in July or defer it.
“We’ve got absolutely no income at all and there are obviously bills to be paid.
“I’m hoping that they are all going to understand until at least any help comes from the government.
“We’ve closed the clubhouse down and turned everything off to try and save every penny we can.
“Fortunately everyone in the club is rallying around to help because, for me anyway, there’s going to be no football. I think we’d be stupid to even think of it.
“Non-league football should accept this is life and death and it just puts football into perspective.
“There might be some disappointment for some but I think we should just close it down and look to the future and the start of next season, whenever that may be.”
A government package may help although the details of such are still being ironed out.
But Waller believes there are simple solutions and while some are short-term, others could have longer-lasting effects and at least help clubs get through to the other side of the outbreak.
He said: “We’ve heard these statements that there is going to be maybe two grants but that doesn’t mean they’ll cover it.
“I’ve said to the league that they have to look at what they charge us next season or whether there’s any help the FA can give.
“There’s a mention that Sport England may try and copy their flood relief scheme.
“That was introduced to help clubs that were affected by the wet weather at the start of this year.
“They offered some clubs affected £5,000 and I have said this is what they need to do for us all.
“People with grass pitches normally get the work done at beginning of May and if we don’t have the monies to do it, we won’t be able to spend anything of it and we won’t have a pitch by the start of the season.
“This will affect football for a while and I know this sounds a bit mean and pointless but we have to look at the money side of things and we have to look at the pitches quickly.
“Once those have been re-seeded we can get on and look after it individually but it’s that little moment of when it comes to pay for someone to do it.
“Contractors can’t come and do it for nothing if they can’t afford to pay their people.
“I’ve written to the Football Foundation and said they need to help. No form filling in, just give the clubs the money to sort out and maintain their pitches because if they don’t it is going to affect the whole of next season.
“We’re not going to ask for loads of money but we have nothing coming in.”
He did though have the utmost sympathy for the authorities with some tough decisions ahead.
“I’ve heard people praising the league and I certainly wouldn’t want to make their decision and I wouldn’t want to be part of the FA making that decision,” he admitted.
“Nobody’s ever been through this before.
“Promotion and relegation is irrelevant when you’re taking about life and death.”
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