Thursday, 16 June 2011

Money, money, money

AS we await the Carling Cup draw and the release of the fixtures, Mark Yates continues his search to strengthen the Cheltenham Town squad for what is gearing up to be another tough campaign.
All around League Two, we have seen clubs recruiting and some of the numbers I have been hearing for wages being thrown around are pretty staggering for this level.
As we know, Wes Thomas went to Crawley and my understanding is that he has more than doubled his wages on the deal, which should be enough to make up for the aggravation of travelling around the M25 each morning.
Elsewhere, there is a striker who has signed for another League 2 club on what I have heard are wages of£1,700 a week - yes folks, nearly £100k a year - so that shows what we are up against as we will not be paying anywhere near that.
Now, I don't know how all this stands up against the wage restrictions of 60 per cent of turnover, and I hope the authorities are able to keep a check on that, because if we are playing by the rules and others are not then what's the point of having the restrictions in place?
Once again, we will have one of the smallest budgets in the division - I would say definitely in the bottom eight, so we will have the quality of team we can afford, and that is what CTFC fans will have to understand.
The board have always tried to be prudent, bar the one occasion when our previous manager (you know the one - bit mad, now in Nottingham) was recklessly allowed to spend money like tap water and took us from League One to the bottom end of League Two.
That won't happen again, and it seems blatantly obvious to me that we cannot compete for the type of players who would really push us on.
There is a rumour that the ex-Lincoln loanee Ashley Grimes is set to snub contract offers from Bradford, Colchester and Crewe to sign for Shrewsbury Town - I understand we had a conversation, but he is too expensive for us.
Jake Robinson joined Northampton, another player who would have been a great signing for any L2 club, and we await Jack Midson's decision - yet on Twitter he said we had not offered him a contract, so maybe again he would have broken our budget.
Disappointing, yes, but not a great surprise, and it shows again that Mark did well last year to assemble the squad he did - and it shows the need for a reality check.
Fans expecting a play-off push will, I am afraid, be disappointed as there are a lot of clubs in League Two with a lot of financial clout, financed in many different ways.
Bradford's gates are five times the size of ours, so it is plausible that their budget could be five times the size as well.
Crawley are still living off the profits of last season's Cup run and now have Macclesfield's Tyrone Barnett on the radar to further bolster their firepower.
Northampton are chucking it about, Swindon have just paid £30,000 for a player and Bristol Rovers will not be worried about the money.
It shows the desperation of some to get out of this division, but will leave the rest of us feeding off the scraps and fighting for a top half finish at best.
So how do we generate more money and find a way to compete?
We don't really have any major saleable assets on the pitch just yet - although a good season may see Danny Andrew or Marlon Pack get the scouts coming in.
Off the pitch, our commercial department do their best but it's tough world out there - and with the racecourse and several decent hotels on the doorstep they are not going to generate massive income.
The location of the stadium does not help in my opinion as business people etc are not going to take clients to Whaddon I am afraid - hence they will go to the racecourse, a posh hotel in town, or to the rugby at Kingsholm.
At Chesterfield, they have 5-600 people every game sitting down for a pre-match three-course meal. At say £20 a head, that's a lot of income, at least 23 times a season.
And their new stadium is regularly used for business functions and conferences as it is the only decent hospitality venue in the town.
Down at Torquay, Boots and Laces brings in money for the club as it is used during the week by the local community. 
In contrast, how busy is the Whaddon Road bar or the Nest bar when there is no game? Answer: Not very.
When we went to Accrington last season, the shop manager told me that the night before the game he had received £500 in online merchandise orders from all over the world - and that is a regular occurence.
The name 'Accrington Stanley' is all they need to generate much-needed income from football fans in Italy, Greece, Asia - all over the place.
There is no easy answer to this problem, and it is one the club will continue to struggle against I am afraid.
But there is one thing that will help - a good Carling Cup draw this morning - West Ham at home maybe and a phone call from those nice people at Sky...