Dave Pottinger answers questions raised by fans on Saturday
In response to some of the questions raised by supporters when they met the Directors on Saturday, chairman Dave Pottinger provides some answers to the most topical questions amongst Reds’ fans
At the start of the season the fans were told we had a top half budget. Is that still the case?
Our assessment of a top half budget, which Michael Dunford made at the Forum in September, was made on the basis of Salary Cost Management Protocol figures supplied by the Football League and our own conversations with other clubs. Under the rules of SCMP, we are only allowed to spend 60% of our turnover on players and associated costs, hence the reduction in playing budget due to a fall in matchday income.
During the course of the season a lot of our rivals have renewed contracts with players and invested in loan signings at a level above where we can participate.
At the halfway point in the season the latest League figures position our budget in the bottom eight, even though during the first half of the season the club’s board and benefactors donated another £100k.
On average gates of 2,365 we simply can’t compete with the majority of clubs in League One.
How does the current budget compare with previous seasons?
The budget is more than when we won the Conference, our promotion-winning season in League Two and our first in League One but slightly reduced compared to last season.
How does the fall in gates affect the club this season and going forward?
At the start of the season we prudently forecasted gates averaging 3,100, even though we averaged 3,496 last season. Currently we are averaging 2,365 in the League. This creates a cash flow short fall of £600k over the season and the board and benefactors have to cover that.
Supporters can decide whether to keep coming to games but owners can’t. Whether we win 1-0 or lose 10-0 they have to make the financial commitment. Going forward, all we can do is prepare budgets based on previous seasons but as it stands the playing budget will be reduced next season. To reiterate, every penny supporters put in makes a difference today and in the future.
Do you think we recruited well in the summer?
Yes and no. Some of the players we signed have been successful, some haven’t. Signing so many new players meant the chances were that some would not be a success. All we can do is support the manager to improve the squad and we, as a Board, are working tirelessly to do so.
In hindsight, was it a mistake to release so many of the players who had formed such a special bond with the fans?
With the exception of Sergio Torres, all of the players John Gregory wanted to retain were offered competitive contracts. Unfortunately, and this happens in football, other clubs offered them more money and longer deals. We fought hard to keep them but eventually we had to wish them good luck and all the best. But, in all honesty, we couldn’t have offered them any better deals.
Are we a selling club and do we expect to lose players in the transfer window?
To sell a player you need a buyer and at the moment we have had no offers for any of our players. A club of our size will always be a selling club as we always have been. But any offer has to be right for the club, the player and their careers. If that’s the case common sense suggests a deal would be done.
It’s all gone quiet on the new stadium plans. What is happening?
Our stadium is Crawley Borough Council owned, and we have a ten-year lease. Going forward, at some point we need to either improve the current facilities or relocate to a new stadium because we have to maximise our revenue and income potential.
We are in the hands of the council and are working with them and we should have more information on our plans going forward in the next few months.
What’s the latest on the search for new owners?
Nearly two years ago the board identified that to be able to continue our rise additional funding would be needed above what the current board and benefactors could provide. We hired lawyers to actively seek national and international investment willing to come in and take Crawley Town to the next level. Three parties showed interest in the club, however not one of them demonstrated that their interest was first and foremost in the club. Nor were they prepared to guarantee cash flow into the club on an ongoing basis. It may have been in the best interests of the existing directors to accept one of the offers but it was not in the best interests of the long-term future of the club, which is why they were rejected. Our door is still open to serious people.
If the right people comes along with the club at heart and demonstrated that to us we would sell it to them for £1.
Is John Gregory coming back?
At this moment the only commitment we have made to Dean Saunders is a contract until the end of the season. His total focus is on maintaining our League One status. As it stands, at the end of the season John Gregory will return as first team manager but at this time we’re not sure whether he will able to come back following his operation. The situation will become clearer at the end of the season but at the moment all our thoughts are with John, who is making a good recovery.
What can the fans do to help in the remaining months of the season?
‘Trust us’ is the message. We understand your frustrations and that you are hurting at the moment but we’d ask you not to forget the progress of the last four years. We need every Crawley supporter behind Dean and the team. Everyone has to play a part. Please back us and help us pull us out of this predicament. If the fans aren’t with us in the trenches it will be even more difficult. We almost need a siege mentality – them against us. Against MK Dons and again on Saturday against Preston the atmosphere was fantastic and helped us pick up four valuable points. We need that every week. We need all of you now to get right behind us at this difficult time and the players have to make sure that if we do go down we do so kicking and screaming, having put up a real fight. But we’re confident that Dean will keep us up.
COME ON YOU REDS!