Plea for help as AFC Telford details financial crisis

AFC Telford today outlined the scale of its financial crisis, appealing to people in the town: "We need your help to secure our future."

Plea for help as AFC Telford details financial crisis

The club needs raise £50,000 urgently and could restructure the club to take it out of exclusive fan control as it faces tightening financial difficulties.

While the issue faced by the club is "not terminal" and it is not facing a winding up order, the board has warned that cashflow is "extremely difficult", and that while income has fallen, costs have spiralled.

Players were paid on time in September, but the club is worried it may struggle to pay its trade creditors unless extra money is found.

It has appealed for fans to turn out in large numbers for Saturday's home match with FC United of Manchester, while the board is also planning to restructure the business, including looking at team travel.

Players had to drive their own cars to last weekend's away draw at Bradford Park Avenue.

The trust board that owns the club, which is in turn owned by fans who buy individual shares for £1 each, is also being asked to approve a change in ownership which would allow wealthier investors to own a stake in the club.

In a statement to fans, the club board said: "The club does have trade creditors, and we are concerned that the club has a reducing ability to pay these unless urgent action is taken.

"Our projections for October, November and December raise these same concerns.

"Ideally we need to raise £25k between now and the end of October, and the same by the end of November."

The club's motto, numquam obliviscere, was adopted after the old Telford United collapsed under £4 million of debt in 2004, and means "never forget".

Steve Bowyer, chairman of the AFC Telford United Supporters Trust, said he expected fans to approve the change of ownership structure.

An emergency general meeting will be called to allow them to vote on the proposals.

Mr Bowyer said: "We have heard murmurs and whispers about people being interested in the club, but as soon as you mention trust ownership they are not interested any more – if they brought in £1 million they would get a £1 share.

"That's what we would look to change.

"If there are interested parties we want them to come to the fore.

"It is difficult but we owe it to the fans that there will be a club here in 100 years' time."

He added: "The environment is very different to five or six years ago – the model can't continue to be sustained if crowds continue to go down."

The Bucks are currently in 22nd in the National League North, having been in the division above, the National League which is the top tier of English non-league football, just two years ago.

The club's last home game against Chorley drew a crowd of 1,030, and the board are now appealing for fans to lend their support to help keep the club afloat.

"Income has fallen, particularly from gate receipts, and some key costs have risen," the club statement said. "An example of this is the safety regime now in place at the stadium, which has added the cost equivalent of 400 full paying adults for one game, for one test to the barriers. We have tried to provide the upmost support to ensure the team on the field is successful, but there is at least one income stream that was budgeted to support this which has as yet failed to materialise."

It added: "We urge everyone who cares about the club to come along to the game on Saturday. Every penny through the turnstiles will help the club massively in the short term."

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