Answering some questions
Hello all, Lately there have been one or two people with questions with regard to a number of issues which I will discuss below. We as a club have always been as transparent as possible and I hope that the answers below give you the information you require, but if not, you can always contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer any concerns.
Why have there been so many games cancelled this season?
We are not the only club to have many cancelled fixtures after this ridiculously wet winter, but yes, there is a problem with our home pitches. The council look after the Recreation ground, so the decision whether to play or not has been taken out of our hands on a few occasions. Whenever possible we have tried to get games played. We apologise that we have not managed more, we promise we are working on the problem
The club have the money to improve the pitches, why have the club been stalling on improving the pitches?
Now this one concerned me, I have to admit. To think there is anybody out there who thinks the club have been stalling on this issue is quite annoying. It is just not true. The pitches at the Recreation ground have been deteriorating for quite a while now and we have been working tirelessly to improve things. Obviously, the ground is not owned by the football club, which means any work which needs to be done, takes a lot of organising. We are not allowed to just get on with it and do it, although on occasion we have tried. I have attended many council meetings to scrap and fight for the pitches to be improved. Thankfully the council paid to have some verti draining work done. We have had three treatments, which helped a little, but not for long.
The drainage system which was installed under the pitches many years ago has become blocked. This means that even if we verti drain the ground more and use club money (or council money) to do it, the water will still not run away as it is meant to do. We as a club would love to be able to investigate and unblock the drainage, but – and no, this is not a joke – the council have lost the plans for the drainage system. We have offered to pay for a large deep soakaway to be dug out (then filled with hardcore below the clay layer and covered up again to make it look like we were never there) which would give the water somewhere to go, but as of yet, the council have not agreed.
My last conversation with the council suggested that the only thing to do was to replace the entire drainage system which would cost about £30,000. The club would be willing to contribute to this cost (even though the ground is not ours) but we are still at the mercy of the council with regards to funding and timeframe. There is another issue on top of that, being that when the drainage has been replaced, we would not be able to play on the pitches for a year to give it time to bed in. Where would the club play? Just something else to think about, but again, to reiterate, what happens with these pitches is completely out of our hands. What I do not want to do is waste money on more verti draining when the drainage is so blocked up, that it does little good.
Why did we change how the fees were collected and why the increase?
When the current committee came in to the club – we are now finishing our third year in charge – the finances were in an awful state. We had one more year until the club had ZERO money. Simple as that. Liphook United were the cheapest club in the area (we still are very competitive) Our players were paying £60 up front and then £3 per match played. (With 20 matches, that took the fees up to £120, so not a massive increase to the £140 it is now) Managers would bring in the shrapnel to the monthly meetings and it would all be banked by the treasurer. There was no way of keeping tabs on who had paid and how much. We also had a major problem with lack of income from the mens section as nobody was collecting anything from them, therefore the youth section were supporting the men. This has now changed, the men pay exactly the same as the youth. So the good news is the club is looking a lot better financially.
The bad news is that our operating costs are so high – Thousands of pounds have been spent on putting managers through their coaching badges to make sure they are qualified, £1200 per month to Bohunt for training through winter months – £2000 to the council for use of the Rec, £1000 a month at least in referee fees, we have insurances, utilities, training equipment etc. etc. – means that – even with our increased fees and extra bar revenue – our summer tournament is the only thing that keeps us afloat. Last year, through the massive efforts of many club members, we had our most successful tournament to date, making a profit of 8.5K which is excellent. This season we are worried that the tournament will not be able to take place due to the Coronavirus. If that happens, the bank balance will be close to zero and we will struggle to survive. We might just have saved enough money through the hard work of the clubhouse committee, but it will be touch and go.
Will there be a fee reduction next year?
No. Even when games are not played, the club still has the same costs to pay out (apart from the referee fees). Our fees are £140 per year – still very reasonable compared with other clubs locally. Most managers train their teams pretty much year round, but for arguments sake, lets say we offer 10 months of football for £140. £14 per month. £3 and a bit a week. I wish my daughter’s ballet cost that!
Does the Youth section pay for the men’s section?
Absolutely not. Not anymore. The men pay exactly the same as the youth players. Bar revenue received of a Saturday pays for their referees fees. Liphook United is exactly that – United. If we receive any money in, it is shared equally between teams. No team gets special treatment. All money received – fees, grants, bar revenue, excess money from sponsorship kit purchases, etc. etc. goes into one account and is spent fairly, depending on what each team needs. For example, the U11’s needed new footballs, £100 was allocated. The new U7’s needed training equipment, new footballs, first aid kit, £200 was allocated. The first team needed to fulfil a fixture, £100 was allocated for a 4G pitch.
I hope the above addresses some of the concerns. I have to say that we really appreciate you being part of our club and we hope your sons and daughters enjoy playing football in the safe and friendly environment which we strive to provide. We have a lot of very good people here at the club who are all volunteers and give up many hours of their time to keep this old club ticking along.
We enjoy providing sport for the community and with your support, we will continue to do so.
Liphook United Football Club.