Another fixture postponement has pushed Poole Town closer to financial strife – as the club’s board tries to find a solution to the club’s crisis pitch.
Their Southern League South tie with Weston-super-Mare on Saturday failed a referee’s pitch inspection, meaning the Dolphins are to play catch up yet again.
Substantial rainfall in Autumn, some of the heaviest according to the Met Office since 2000, has ensured the Dolphins’ promotion hopes have been dented, with only one game at home since October.
Despite the turn of a new year, the pitch at the Black Gold Stadium fell afoul of the weather for the sixth time this season.
It’s not a straight forward exercise running a football club, that’s for sure!”
With no consistent income to the club coffers, Club Chairman Chris Reeves revealed to BUzz news the issues keeping him awake into the small hours.
He said: “I can’t escape the fact that it is putting serious stress [on the club’s finances,]. It’s keeping me up at night, crunching all the numbers.
“As most people know, we have a planning restriction on our clubhouse – we can’t open our clubhouse on any day other than matchdays.
“So, we can’t generate revenue in that way. We get good attendances, relatively, for a club of our level, so the matchday revenue is critical.
“You plan your cashflow – you know what bills you’re going to pay, you assess what income you’re going to get from any particular game, and then of course that income doesn’t come – it is a big problem.”
In a makeshift attempt to combat the issues, the club have shelled out hundreds in order to dig a drainage pit and install a new pump system to give the pitch a fighting chance.
Reeves, who has been involved at the club for over four decades, relayed the challenges the club faces daily in keeping afloat.
“Running a football club is very different to any other business, you can’t let your heart rule your head completely.
“But, to a certain extent you need to. Because, if you don’t make what might be regarded as calculated gambles, if you don’t have the best team that you can feel you can cope with financially, that has an impact on the morale of the club, the support, the attendance through the gate, the revenue. It’s not quite as ludicrous as to improve your bottom line, arguably you shouldn’t reduce your overhead, you should increase them.
“Because, the better players that you’ve got, the more interest in the club, the more people through the gate.
“That’s not a formula we adopt at Poole, but it illustrates the point if you cut your overheads by the figure you wish to save, then what you could also be doing is dramatically reducing your revenue.
“Less people come, less spend per head – it’s not a straight forward exercise running a football club, that’s for sure!”
Poole’s mass postponements have history – with the Dolphins narrowly missing out on the 2013-14 playoffs after being forced to play three games a week.
At the moment it seems history won’t repeat itself, but Reeves reiterates that finances were a lot healthier six years ago.
“We’ve still got enough Tuesdays left to go, it’s not as bad as it was then. We had one home game in three months, in that particular season.
“But the rain came a lot later in the season, and it also came at a time when the club’s cashflow was better in other areas, for various reasons that prevailed at the time.
“It is a slightly different situation – there was some worse things about then that don’t exist now, and vice versa.
Poole’s lack of consistent game time has led to a lack of consistent results. But with five games in hand on most teams, we have the potential to launch a push for automatic promotion.
Lying just outside the playoffs in 7th place, Reeves is confident that the club can push for a return to England’s sixth tier.
“We very much want promotion. Our plans for the club and all that we’re involved with in our discussions off the field, promotion goes hand in hand with that.”
Hopefully the skies will clear up for the Dolphins shortly.