Financial future is a concern for Lancaster City boss Mark Fell amid coronavirus outbreak

Lancaster City boss Mark Fell fears for the future of many non-league clubs as the coronavirus crisis grips the world.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 5:00 pm
Lancaster City's Charlie Bailey blasts a shot at goal during the 1-1 draw versus Witton Albion on Saturday.Picture: Tony North

With the football season being suspended – likely for an indefinite period – from the top level down to the bottom, many clubs will face financial hardship.

In non-league, the suspension will be most felt as club depend on the gate receipts they receive for home games to keep themselves afloat.

However, that source of income has now dried up for the foreseeable future but clubs still have player contracts to pay and bills to meet.

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Fell, who believes the suspension of this season was the right decision to safeguard people’s health, said the lack of income was a concern in the mid to long term.

“The club have done loads of work commercially and they have created little income streams,” he said.

“We have things like the car park which is open to shoppers during the day and they have all these little bits and pieces and they run it properly.

“But without a doubt, the main income of any football club certainly at our level is the people who come through the gate on a matchday.

“Even if the plan was to finish the season behind closed doors, the season would get finished but the income still isn’t there for the clubs.

“How can it be viable for a club to continue paying players if they can’t balance the books.

“It’s a problem for us and will be a problem for lots of clubs. Some clubs in our division have wealthy benefactors who could just bankroll it but 75% of the clubs would not be able to do that and that goes down the pyramid.

“These clubs are just not going to be sustainable. It really is an unprecedented time and nobody knows what is going to happen.”

Fell revealed that City have five contracted players currently on their books.

“Clubs are going to be panicking,” he said. “How are they going to pay these players. I am hearing loads of stories that contracts will become null and void. “Does that mean every player at every club is now up for grabs? It is an absolute minefield.

“Suspending the season is the right thing to do but it will cause so many knock-on problems for managers and chairmen.”