Poor weather hits Brig in the pocket

Fran Doyle with manager Neil Crowe (photo: Stefan Willoughby)

Fran Doyle with manager Neil Crowe (photo: Stefan Willoughby)

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Bamber Bridge are hoping the local community will come to its aid after the club announced yesterday that its players have not been paid.

Chairman Fran Doyle revealed that this winter’s poor weather conditions has caused a tight spot in the club’s finances.

The recent heavy rains – which led to widespread flooding across many parts of Lancashire – resulted in a drain collapsing at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium, causing extensive damage to one corner of the pitch.

That has forced several of Brig’s home games to be postponed over the last few weeks, resulting in a loss of much-needed revenue through gate receipts.

Since their home match against Spennymoor Town on November 21 – just under 11 weeks ago – Brig have played just three times in front of their home supporters.

In 2016, they have played only once at Irongate – a 5-0 win over Harrogate Railway Athletic in the NPL First Division North earlier this week.

Doyle was quick to reassure fans that Brig’s long-term future is not at risk, but at the moment the club is experiencing a major cash flow problem. The players were informed of the club’s current predicament at a team meeting after training on Tuesday evening and are understood to be right behind the club.

Many of the current squad have been at the club several years and remember the time around three years ago when the club had to drastically reduce its budget.

It is hoped once the weather relents and home fixtures start to be completed, the club’s financial problems will begin to diminish.

But Doyle admitted that a bumper attendance for tomorrow’s home clash against Witton Albion will go a long way to digging the club out of the hole it currently finds itself in.

“There’s no money in the bank at the moment,” Doyle said. “We are not on our own though – there are a lot of clubs in a similar position.

“It’s a difficult time with the way the weather has been.

“But as a club, we will stick together – we have got to get through it. Hopefully the people of Preston will get behind us.

“North End are away to Wolves tomorrow, so it would be great if some of the PNE fans came down to watch us tomorrow.

“A crowd of 500 would be fantastic – it would be great if we could get that every week.”

Manager Neil Crowe and his assistant Neil Reynolds are expected to prepare the players as normal for the visit of Albion, who are five points above Brig in the table having played five games more.

The men from Irongate will feel confident of victory having recorded four wins from their last five games, including a 2-1 victory over Albion in the Doodson Sports Cup in January.

“We have been in training on Tuesday and last night preparing for the game,” said Reynolds.

“We went to Witton in the Doodson Cup and beat them 2-1 and we also went there earlier in the season and won 4-2 in the league.

“So we are looking to do the treble over them. They are a good side. In Alex Titchiner, they’ve got a striker who will score goals.”

Squad-wise, Brig have received a blow with the news that Joe Booth will be out for the season with a knee injury. Captain Matt Lawlor is unavailable through work commitments.