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Thursday, 21 October 2010

The Sacking Of York

At first glance, my club, York City, are the same as many others at the more unglamorous reaches of the football pyramid. Money, as ever, is tight – to be expected when your average attendance is 2,386 and you’re in the conference. But the finances at Bootham Crescent (‘Crescent’ no longer preceded by Kit Kat, thankfully) are not as clear cut as one might imagine.

Two Wembley appearances in the past two seasons are case in point, revenues from which are obviously large. Add into the mix an FA Cup 3rd round glamour tie if you will against Stoke in January this year and you have a club with significant funds entering the coffers. And then not unsubstantial were the fees agreed for Martyn Woolford in 2008 (six figures with sell-on clause) and then this year’s sale of top scorer Richard Brodie to conference moneybags Crawley Town for six figures again; thought to be as much as £300k. Which leads me to the central crux of this piece – how the hell can the club be pleading poverty? Here is a statement made on October 12 on York’s official website: “The financial position of York City remains the same as previous recent seasons. The Club is likely to make a significant operating loss this year, but continues to be financially supported by their Malton based parent company, J M Packaging Ltd. York City continues to work hard to increase commercial revenue, though this is a difficult task in the current economic climate.”

Oh the fabled ‘economic climate’. Such a massive and convenient carpet to sweep any meaningful financial discussion underneath with minimum fuss. I have seen it written before that York lose money at a staggering rate and we certainly won’t be alone in that respect in the English game. With the Setanta cash going AWOL, conference clubs lost out on around £80k a year. To put this in perspective, Hayes and Yeading would have to sell 400 extra season tickets – two-thirds of the club’s average attendance – to cover the shortfall. The effects are clearly still being felt, a year on.

Something sinister has to be afoot at York, however. Now I’m not one of these cynics who trawls the net for conspiracy theories but in the 20 months Martin Foyle was in charge at the club, he completely reversed our fortunes and under his stewardship we were 90 minutes away from regaining our league status. So why did Foyle quit just a few weeks ago? Yes we have made a bad start to the season but in the 46-game conference, a winning streak can propel you into the play offs rapidly, something York experienced themselves last year. But Brodie and Luke Graham aside, this is more or less the same side that finished so strongly last season. It was strongly rumoured that players Foyle earmarked in the summer didn’t fit into the club’s miserly wage structure – former Salisbury striker and scorer of 25 goals last season, Matthew Tubbs, a prime example (now forming the strikeforce that should be in place at York, at Crawley instead). BUT WE HAD JUST BEEN IN THE PLAY OFF FINAL. DO WE NOT WANT LEAGUE FOOTBALL?

York are 16th in the league, up until recently managerless and seemingly penniless. May’s play off final feels a world away and another trip to Histon is a thoroughly depressing thought. If after Wembley appearances, sales to key players and plum cup ties are STILL not enough to balance the books at York then I am really quite worried. I’d be interested to hear if any other lower league/non league fans have similar complaints. Adam Bushby

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree, I've said before on the YEP site that the club is being financially sweated with the consent of the bank and the accountants. Any money that isn't vital to the club remaining a going concern is being syphoned off. I fear that this is to prop up JM packaging, they being the one's in trouble not the club.