Grantham Town announce players’ wage cut

Grantham Town chief executive officer Keith Horton.
Grantham Town chief executive officer Keith Horton.
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Grantham Town this week told the Grantham Journal that the club has had to implement a players’ wage cut.

Gingerbreads chief executive officer Keith Horton said that the £2,500 weekly wages budget set by former chairman Barrie Pierpoint had been “unrealistic” and that the club needed to make a number of decisions to keep the team at their current level.

Mr Horton said average Saturday home gates of around 240 and midweek attendances in the mid 100s made the wages outlay unsustainable as it was.

Mr Horton said: “The decision, in consultation with the players and their managers, was to reduce the players’ wage bill from the beginning of November.

“A new playing budget has been agreed with the management, a budget which is financially sustainable and will form the basis to build upon towards the end of the season or for the start of next.

“The playing budget reduction has to be achieved, otherwise we are faced with the unthinkable and that is to close the club and resurface as a new entity two leagues lower. This is certainly not a part of my agenda or indeed anyone else’s involved with the club.

“We will take hard decisions for the long term benefit of the club based on monies that we know are available, and not hypothetical figures that may or may not materialise as the season progresses.”

Mr Horton said the club was, though, in a fortunate position in that its only real expenditure is the players’ wages, as most everything else was covered by monies of around £20,000 raised by Grantham Town Supporters’ Club each year, namely things such as pitch hire, match day magazines and coach travel.

Mr Horton said were it not for the supporters’ club, Grantham Town would be unsustainable at the level of football at which they currently play.

He also pointed out that, aside from the players, everyone else involved with the club does so on a voluntary basis: “We take no money whatsoever out of the club. Indeed, the directors often pledge their own monies for various projects.

“Even the football management team take no money out of the club. This is unusual in our league as many managers will register themselves as players to take a weekly wage.”

Players Liam Dickens and Scott Matthews left the club last week, shortly followed by striker Greg Smith who has gone to King’s Lynn.

The Journal believes the latest to jump ship are skipper Phil Watt, once again, and midfielder Michael Towey, both of whom are rumoured to have gone to Belper Town.

Although other players are in talks with club management, the Journal was told there would be no problem in fielding a side for Saturday’s FA Trophy game at Loughborough Dynamo which could see £2,700 go into the Gingerbreads’ coffers should they win.

Mr Horton said the club’s original playing budget had been set against a projected commercial income which has yet to materialise – including the provision of a main sponsor.

He said he was disappointed to have been let down by Lincolnshire County Council with whom the club thought they had negotiated a partnership under the NHS programme Change 4 Life, which would have seen Grantham Town use sport and its facilities as the catalyst for boosting healthy lifestyles in the Earlesfield and surrounding areas.

But Mr Horton was upbeat and said they had match sponsors lined up, and that local business engagement with the club was starting to happen.

At the core of Mr Horton’s vision for the club are the town’s youngsters, starting with the Saturday Soccer School, sponsored by Grantham College, through to a schools programme, youth teams and the start of the football academy with the college.

Mr Horton said: “We are a united team at the club and together we can achieve all we set out to do.

“However we cannot do it alone and we need all the supporters to rally round.”