Stephen Cleeve: The true cost of going full-time
- Credit: Ian Burt
Preparations for next season are well under way - but the big question that needs answering is: can the club go full-time?
Going full-time means different things to different clubs – some operate on a 52-week model whilst others use a 44-week model. Some clubs include the play-off games whilst others extend paid contracts should the clubs qualify. Clearly, if contracts get extended then wages are paid over a longer period. It is easy for fans to think that is where the costs start and finish but delving a little deeper into the ramifications of the move throws up many hidden expenses.
On the positive side, the manager needs proper contact time with his players and the pre-season preparation almost defines the season that we are going to have. If the manager can get the players to commit to double sessions every day, he will not only get them fit but also ensure they can play in the manner that he wants.
To do this, of course, one needs a venue to train on. King’s Lynn is not blessed with sporting facilities and the ones that it does have are so busy that it is hard to find a space where we can train for a couple of hours a day, let alone the whole day.
Assuming a venue can be found we then need to consider feeding the squad. At the moment we provide breakfast and lunch for all players on training days, but this would need to be ramped up to every day and a chef would need to be employed full-time, thus increasing our food bills. We then need someone to set everything up, clear everything away and run all the kit, so the kitman would also need to be full-time.
On the training field itself, a full-time fitness coach and a physio would be the next to find their hours being increased to full-time status. The manager needs full-time assistants around him, so that’s at least one more full-time employee on the payroll. The data analytics department would also need a boost.
It goes without saying that players cannot travel long distances on a daily basis, so accommodation would need to be organised for those that have long commutes.
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I understand that there are a lot of League One and Two clubs that are struggling at the moment and league players are well aware that there are several National League clubs paying far more than many in Leagues One and Two. This makes it doubly difficult to survive as we are up against very wealthy opponents who are not subject to a salary cap and we do not have anywhere near the money that Leagues One and Two clubs get from their central pots, although we do have almost the same expenses.
I do have one or two plans up my sleeve to try to make the above happen, but you can see that it is far from easy to carry out these plans.
Sponsorship is a key part in trying to fill the financial gaps and I am delighted that Charmed Interiors have renewed their sponsorship of our home shirt and Barsbys have renewed their sponsorship of the away one.
We have created a third strip for next season which draws its roots from King’s Lynn’s first ever strip, which I understand was black and white stripes, and Charmed Interiors have kindly agreed to sponsor that as well. Our back-of-shirt sponsor, Linnets Bet, whilst still being involved with the club next season, have not continued with that sponsorship but we are very grateful that Jason Sutton, the CEO of Charmed Interiors, has stepped into the breach with one of his other businesses, Salon@, a hair salon based in Downham Market.
The net effect of the above is that we have raised an extra 20pc overall on last year’s shirt sponsorship figures which is most welcome in these difficult times.
The club has had to take on hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt this season so that we could finish the season and this will have to be repaid, so if you are able to stream this weekend's game against Maidenhead United at 3pm to see if we can complete our third double of the season it would be a huge help.
We are also looking at admission prices for next season. As we need to balance the books whilst ensuring that fans are not priced out from watching football, we have decided to freeze all prices other than add £1 to the price of adults and concessions tickets on a match day. This £1 is a donation that will be ring-fenced and will go towards repaying the debt incurred this season in government loans.
Whatever happens, costs will rise next season and your support will be crucial. Hopefully, fans will be happy to show up in large numbers at The Walks and finally be able to get behind their club in person. The future of the game really depends on it.