All of our league fixtures will be completed six weeks from today and with five home games and four away, we are now in the business end of the season.

Today is our academy day at The Walks - every member of our academy will be on the pitch, walking a lap of honour in various groups at half-time which logistically has taken some organising, with 320 footballers from six to 19 years old getting the applause that they so richly deserve.  

The club has won the Junior Premier League already this season for our under 13s and under 14s age groups and next season we are entering even more teams; the only factor that has been holding us back are the pitches to play the matches on. 

As it is a special day, we are letting anyone who is 18 years old or under into today’s game against Spennymoor for free, if they obtain their ticket on-line. Clearly there will be at least 320 fans under 18 in the stadium, but it will be interesting to see how many other fans take up the offer.

Eastern Daily Press: Linnets boss Tommy Widdrington, whose side face Spennymoor at The Walks this weekendLinnets boss Tommy Widdrington, whose side face Spennymoor at The Walks this weekend (Image: Ian Burt)

Financially life is tough, but it always is at most clubs, and being still full-time our costs are somewhat higher than they would be if we followed the part-time model. 

On top of player and coaching wages which along with travelling expenses (usually the best part of £4,000 per game) topped over £1m last season, houses are rented, training pitches need to be paid for, as do medical bills, our electricity bill is now an extra £5,000 a month more than it was this time last year and the pitch costs at least £2,000 every month, with five-figure sums paid in the summer months.  

If we add in stadium improvements such as our new scoreboard which was the best part of £45,000 after the electrics were sorted, you simply cannot make ends meet on average gates of just over 1,000 every week.

I am well aware that we need to recruit someone to run our commercial side, but equally, with the greatest will in the world, if they manage to fill the shortfall, they should be given a statute in the Tuesday Market Place. 

Last Saturday we played Kidderminster, whose ticket prices are above ours, and they have the biggest crowds in our league, averaging over 2,200 a game. They had a huge cup run last season with a FA Cup TV game against West Ham United generating them a significant number of new season ticket holders.

If we manage to achieve promotion, we could find ourselves up against Wrexham, who are paying their latest signing from Charlton Athletic, Eoghan O Connell, over £5,000 a week - so we have to somehow field a competitive team against clubs that have budgets which dwarf ours and we can never get close to. 

I love a challenge and we have a great reputation for developing players over the last few years and I see it as an area where we can compete; many clubs won’t or cannot take the risk, in blooding new talent; we can and must.

The question remains, how do we balance the books? There is a small proportion of fans that could not care less. They see it as my problem and not one that they need to worry themselves about. The problem with this approach is that if something happened to me, then who would pick up the pieces? Some fans feel sustainability is the way forward and I agree with them, but if we only spent what came in, we would be mid-table at best in the league below, unless our recruitment was out of this world. It is possible, as Scunthorpe have shown, but equally their crowds are bigger than ours.

Other fans feel dropping the price will increase the takings, but it is unlikely, although we can put on special deals like we have today, when you drop prices you need a lot more fans to fill the gap. Secondary spend is their main argument and of course I agree it will rise with more supporters, but this needs to be balanced with lost revenue overall. The other problem is that many fans arrive a few minutes before kick-off and there is a finite amount of fans we can serve at half time. Every week our manager Tommy Widdrington goes into local schools with Jodie Hopkins, who runs our charity and gives away free tickets, so it is something that we already do to a point anyway.

When I first came to the club we only had between 10 and 18 children at every game, now we have hundreds, but the revenue generated is very small so really what I am doing is helping the next chairman to do his job, but we need to find revenue today to keep the club going.

Our attendances for our pre-season matches against league first team opposition, including MK Dons and Peterborough, were very small as some of our fans do not think they are worth watching as they are not competitive fixtures, but they are missing the point.  

Personally, I thought the games were great to watch. The price was just £10 and whilst I accept there is nothing on them in terms of points, by turning up they are helping the club to survive and surely that is something that everyone needs to take responsibility for.

Norwich City kindly bring a full first team every season and whilst our home support does increase for this glamour fixture, we are outnumbered by fans of Norwich, who are always well supported. Huge kudos must go to their supporters.

There is a lot more the club can do, but I do think fans need to do everything they can to encourage someone to join them at The Walks for the day. Our away support has surged over the last seasons, with anywhere from 70 to 600 fans enjoying the day out.  

Having a buzzing stadium has a huge effect on the players - they are, after all, only human and need to feed off the crowd sometimes, to give themselves a lift. If everyone is serious about wanting the club to play at a higher level then if we can double the gate the club has a real sustainable future, which surely must be everyone’s aim, as well as giving the players a lift which the quality of football on view fully deserves.