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Crusaders fighting for their future

While manager Ian Herring remains unsure of his future at the club

Liam Headd

Liam Headd

liam.headd@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886629

Crusaders fighting for their future

HUNGERFORD Town are facing a crisis as they look to secure their future.

The National League South side have announced that they are looking for a new chairman, secretary and treasurer for next season to oversee the future of the club.

Chairman Steve Skipworth, secretary Mike Hall and treasurer Terry Wild will all step down at the end of the 2018/19 season.

The Crusaders hosted an open fans forum at Bulpit Lane last Thursday to discuss the financial crisis facing the club, who are battling to maintain their National League status.

Skipworth, who also maintains the condition of the pitch and other facilities, said: “I am stepping down because the workload is too much and I have to handle other jobs too.

“I am still happy to do the pitch and the facilities as opposed to the role of chairman. I have done it for 10 years and I am tired of it.

“We’re a club at a high level and we want that to continue, but this year has been very expensive.”

Current treasurer Wild announced a loss of £107,675 from last season, which was largely down to a benefactor pulling out mid-season.

He said: “The accounts this year until February are showing a loss of £22.5K – a great achievement to get the losses down, but still way above a level the club can afford.”

When a projection was made for the rest of 2019, it was revealed that Town were set to lose a further £48,000.

In terms of next season, Wild said: “The club will receive £149,000 in income, but there’s £111,000 in expenses and £38,000 for players’ wages and all team-related expenses.

“If we do get any other income from anyone, it can be added back to the players’ budget, but do it after you receive it and not in anticipation,” he added.

The current debt of the club stands at £56,000 and the club believe this can be resolved.

However, there will be a shortfall until the end of the year at the club and they announced that £15,000 is required for wages and other bills.

“It’s desperate – it needs sorting out and it needs sorting out quickly because we haven’t got a structure at the minute,” added Wild.

Hungerford are also on the lookout for a commercial manager, but until other significant roles are filled, this won’t happen.

One of the decisions by the committee was to take the option of voluntary relegation from the National League South.

“We want to play at a level where everyone is happy,” said Skipworth.

“The most important thing is to make sure the club survives because it’s been here for 140 years and we want to make sure that continues.

“If we did go down, we would lose the sponsorship, we wouldn’t have the option of loaning players and we’d probably be worse off.”

Secretary Hall said: “I cannot think of anything worse than going down, whether it be on the field or off the field – to think we collectively want to go down is completely wrong.

“If we can stop that in any way, I’m all for that and I can give anyone  any help they need.”

Herring unclear about next season

Meanwhile, Crusaders manager Ian Herring remains uncertain of his future at the club after the fans forum.

The 35-year-old wants to see ‘drastic changes’ at the club.

Hungerford are currently in a relegation fight on the field, while facing financial battles off it.

But Town helped their battle for survival on Saturday as they won 3-0 at Hampton & Richmond.

James Rusby scored twice and Alfy Whittingham was also on target as Hungerford moved out of the relegation zone.

Herring said: “Unless there are drastic changes within the club, I will offer my resignation at the end of the season because I can’t work under current circumstances.

“Would I be committed to next season? I don’t know.

“I can’t answer that because we’re currently at a club where we have no chairman, treasurer or secretary.”

“The season finishes in four weeks and pre-season will start eight weeks after that, so this needs to be immediate.”

Even if Town fill the roles,  Herring is still unsure about his future.

“I’d have to speak to my wife,” he admitted. “The chairman and new secretary would have to be the right people I could work with.

“I am a committed person, a loyal person and a hard-working person. Once I commit to something, I won’t walk away until it’s drastic and at the moment, it is drastic.

“I could have walked away a few months ago and thank God I didn’t because we have such a wonderful group of lads.”

One of the options to assist Hungerford’s finances was to take voluntary relegation, but Herring, who has spent almost eight years at the club, was totally against that idea.

He said: “I don’t see why, if we stay up, you’d want to drop down from this league.

“Okay, we have to find a new chairman, treasurer and secretary, but surely if you drop down a league, the ability to draw sponsors in and use the loan system, giving players opportunities to play at this level goes.

“In my eyes, if you play at the level we’re in, you have more opportunity to pull in potential sponsors, so I don’t think there is a benefit in dropping down.”

Herring has worked hard to keep Hungerford in the National League South, bringing in  players on loan from other clubs.

He said: “I know that if we went to Bristol Rovers, Birmingham City or Colchester United, we could offer players National League South football and we would have great players – we couldn’t do that in the league or two leagues below.”

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