Conference North club Worcester City could fold this summer, as season ticket sales are falling well short of the board’s target. With a figure of fifteen hundred targeted, so far only around 360 have been bought for the 2013-14 season. This will be even harder for the club to take, as the tickets were available for just £100.
City will, of course, be playing their home games at Kidderminster’s Aggborough stadium, eleven miles away, after their historic St. George’s Lane ground was sold for housing. The team normally have more than seven hundred supporters on a regular basis at home games, and with a population of more than a hundred thousand, the season ticket target seemed achievable, especially as there were more than four thousand at St. George’s Lane for the final game at the ground against champions Chester FC.
The following statement was issued by the club this week:
“The chips are down. Worcester City Football Club belongs to the people of Worcester. There are no millionaires waiting in the wings to save it. The sad reality is that if enough people don’t come forward the board will have no alternative but to seriously consider bringing the curtain down on the club as it is not prepared to go forward without the confidence that it can fulfil its financial obligations during the coming season.”
In an interview with the Worcester Standard, vice-chairman Colin Layland had this to say:
“I am disappointed that the offer has not been taken up to be honest. If people want a football club to survive they should have come out and bought the tickets – that’s the bottom line. We originally asked for around 1,500 and then dropped it down to 700 and we can’t even get that amount. The player budget and everything will come into the equation because we have got to survive at Kidderminster somehow and we have still got to pay the bills.”
The problems stem from the reduced income from the sale of St. George’s Lane. Originally, the figures being quoted for the sale were in the region of £8million, but when the sale was finalised, it transpired that the final price had been more in the ballpark of £3million. This has led to a huge shortfall, and their plans to build a new ground at Nunnery Way, on the outskirts of the city, are now under threat. They are also facing a £400,000 tax bill.
The low uptake on season ticket sales, coupled with the extra costs of playing at Aggborough next season, has led to a drastically reduced playing budget for next season. Manager Carl Heeley has been unable to offer terms to any of last season’s playing staff, and reports suggest that the budget may have been cut by as much as forty percent.
My opinion on this is as follows:
While I was sad for the fans to see the club play it’s final game at it’s famous old ground, I have to agree with Mr Layland. Us fans are always quick to lay blame at the door of directors for not putting every penny they own into our club, but if we don’t put our own hands in pockets to support them, then the writing is on the wall. Granted, it will not be easy for lots of fans to get to Kidderminster for “home” games, but the fact that they got more than four thousand through the gates on the final day of the season suggests that there is a decent fan base in the area. Let’s just hope that more of them dig deep and hopefully save the club.