On behalf of the Board, I would like to address comments which seem to be finding their way around the terraces, and other supporters who don’t even attend games. The main subjects (in no particular order) seem to be about finance, social club, social media, players, attendances, and how the Board are handling the promotion and other topics.
I can assure everybody that these subjects are close to the heart of every Board Member, and are actively being discussed and actioned as quickly and efficiently as manpower (or lack of!) allows. For proof of this please take time to read the Chairman’s comments in Tuesday night’s programme against Workington.
FINANCE – the income we received from the sale of land adjacent to the stadium has been partly spent on 40% Capital Gains Tax, repaying loans (in full) to supporters outstanding for up to 20 years, and essential repairs/alterations to the stadium. The balance is sitting in our bank account, and won’t be used irresponsibly by this Board – we will not go down the path of our ex footballing neighbours who are now suffering from some very rash decisions taken in the past. Directors have all contributed financially to try and offset the loss of earnings from losing our revenue from that same football club. Also the income from our Academy and associated activities is beginning to bear fruit, and is making a large contribution to our income. Again this is a result of sheer hard work from mainly one of our directors and Chairman etc.
SOCIAL CLUB – the Board are well aware that this is a current problem which needs priority. The Social Club should be a very important money earner throughout the year, and not just match days. With Christmas just around the corner, we should be taking bookings regularly now. We are discussing plans and soon hopefully will be making important announcements.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND PRESS MANAGER – We did have in place before the start of the season a Press/Media manager. Unfortunately his job interfered with the work he was doing for Witton, and he disappeared for 6 months. Obviously this was not acceptable, and we need to replace him with a suitable replacement/s. This is being discussed as we speak, and again we hope to have a result in the near future. Please note, this is the missing link towards getting the Guardian giving priority to Witton that we deserve being the major Mid Cheshire club.
PLAYERS – the current squad have shown until very recently that Witton are good enough to survive and prosper in the Premier League. We are on a barren run at the moment, and just lack confidence, which hopefully will return with a victory. No team turns bad overnight. Regarding funds, we increased the playing budget by between 40/50% over last season, and even then we find other teams wage bills are more than double ours. Carl has almost total control over ins and outs of players, and the Board trusts his and the management teams judgement at all times. There is no point in spending to replace players who are no better than what we already have, and Carl is very shrewd in this respect. If we had been offered the guaranteed position we now occupy 12 months ago, I’m sure the majority of Wittoners would have accepted it.
ATTENDANCES – this is a subject the Board can do very little over and above what has already been attempted. After promotion, the gates are actually DOWN on last season, and had it not been for the Alty game, the average home gates would be terrible. We’ve tried the free entry for kids with paying adults, free transport to/from the stadium, military personnel free entrance etc etc. We had hoped for a 10% increase in gates without any offers, and a further 10% with the offers – none of this has happened even when we were TOP OF THE LEAGUE.
THE FORUM – people are entitled to an opinion on any subject, but PLEASE, instead of spreading negativity for everybody to see (including management, players and other clubs), look at what you can actually DO TO HELP THE CLUB. We need volunteers at all levels from the Boardroom down, so to those who complain, put that energy into improving the situation for everybody’s sake. If you have a genuine concern, don’t go into print, ask Mark, myself, other directors, Carl and his management team, face to face, and you will get an answer (plus a lot of respect). Obviously some details may be confidential, but at minimum you will be given a broad answer. Generally speaking there is too much work in all areas, and with help we can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and get results on and off the field. That is real teamwork!!
PROMOTION PROSPECTS – we feel that if we can recover form quickly, we could still challenge for a play-off spot. If we don’t recover soon, hopefully a top/middle placement in the first season would be satisfactory, and then push on next season. With regard to a remark that the Board are deliberately telling the team to lose because we can’t afford to be promoted, sorry not going there for fear of saying something inappropriate!! However, it is a fact that each promotion does have an effect on the budget, and it needs to increase substantially to compete in a higher league. BUT if we don’t get the support through the gates (like this season so far), how can we possibly afford the higher costs? If we were getting gates of 500+, our problems would be minimal.
VOLUNTEERS – as above we are always looking for people to help in any capacity. I have previously asked for assistance to deliver the next lot of leaflets door to door around the town and surrounding villages (probably in November). So far, all I’ve got are two people – Ian who has recently been discharged from hospital after a triple heart by-pass, and Jo who lives in Runcorn and already takes on several tasks for the club. Surely there have got to be others prepared to give a few hours in helping? I hope so.
TRANSPORT TO/FROM WINCHAM – we have decided to continue this service until such time that it’s not feasible any more. However, there will be a very small charge from now on. Kids still travel for free, pensioners pay £1 return, and others £2 return. Cloakroom tickets will be handed out to be surrendered to the driver on the return journey. Single fares will be charged the same as return. The only other change will be the last bus will leave Witton Chimes at about 2.15 pm, not 2.45 as previous. The pick up/drop off points remain the same, and we are sincerely hoping the service will increase numbers using it, particularly new supporters. We are aware that quite a few of the fans using the service would be going anyway, but it is a gesture of goodwill from the club to main core supporters, who we value highly. The fees are a contribution towards the costs we incur for the bus
I hope to have covered all the topics which seem to be floating about, but any problems, please see one of the directors to discuss on Saturday against Coalville, and let’s be positive about the future.
Thanks for the post and the information. After a win last night lets hope it is a turning point and we can put this bad spell to bed now and everybody gets behind the club and the team and we move on. UTA.
I don't comment on the forum often as it seems that logic and facts get lost in the multiple responses of the few people who do post. Anyhow:-
Mr Batchman, (not sure if that's your name but no matter) can I firstly applaud you for representing the board in an open forum in such a frank and bare all way, in doing so there are a few points you make which are questionable and whilst you suggest contact directly (I do speak to MH and Carl if I have anything to say).
In relation to the finances, you and the current board are in an enviable position compared to any other time in the last 23 years, in that you actually now have money in the bank and you are debt free, many's the time I and many, many others have sat in the boardroom and dark rooms without the proverbial pot to pee in. ( not even a green and white one!)
But by hook and by crook and by the grace of many Wittoners who never thought of these things as loans, but there duty of birthright to ensure its continued existence, the club got through, so again I applaud the board for taking the decision that they aren't going to spend like the other lot.
Where I do have a concern is that the budget has been increased by 40-50% on last year - firstly Where? Secondly on what or who? and thirdly why would you make that decision, based on less ground rent income, less social club income and precious little commercial income?
That in no way is a slight on Carl or his team who did a fantastic job to get us promotion, but there is no way the slight change in personnel can cost us 40-50% more on last season.
The other point I would make is that you refer to paying Capital Gains Tax at 40%, if that's the case then the club are paying it at a rate far in excess of what the Inland Revenue would expect to receive, I suggest the club speak to their accountants PDQ as we need to get that overpayment refunded.
Lastly in reference to volunteers, it is a thankless task and can take over your life , I have been a volunteer at the club for 30+ years from selling programmes as a kid, running coaches and functions, donating and raising money to being a Director.
The biggest challenge the club faces and the one that needs the most resource spending on it imho is to ensure the the future of the football club (or even non league football in the area) is to engage the youth and people Under 30 in the local area, because without that the club is slowly dying.
Two men I have great respect for suggested to me that now is the moment for the three clubs to merge as none are in a great financial state, 1874 may have cash in the bank but have no ground, Vics basicalky have nothing and Witton are finding it hard to make ends meet. It sounded plausable at first, Vale Royal United or somesuch name, but then I realised, ALL football clubs get into debt at some point, some survive, some don't and if we did merge it would happen to the new club. So, "No" merging is not the answer, more money, more supporters, or a much lower wage bill are.
So, either bring more friends and family to matches, donate money or accept the idea of a much lower wage bill and a lower standard of player, leading to a lower standard of team.
If you are a BIG Wittoner these are your choices.
I have been retired for 8 years now and I can confirm two things; You cannot work out how you found time to go to work and it is wonderful to be TOTALLY in charge of your life, with the wife's permission of course. Read me in the Our Town magazine.