Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter gives a vital update on the club’s future after National League relegation is confirmed.
The Kent outfit will be playing in the second tier of non league football next season with their fate sealed following defeat at home to Yeovil.
Manager Andy Hessenthaler had claimed only one victory all season and a 12-point deduction added to their plight with the inevitable done.
Bottom club Dover, who are on minus four, are now 35 points from safety with 11 games and a possible 33 points remaining.
Parmenter have since said, as reported by Kent Online: “We have got to compete with the multi-million clubs, we have got to compete with the relegated clubs with the parachute payments and the big crowds so, unless there’s a big investment in Dover, I think it’s going to be very hard for us to get back to the National League.
“I don’t think we could have done more, given the budgets that we had to work with and the fine we had to pay.
“I think we have been drastically unlucky in some games and I just think it was inevitable, and I think we have gone down fighting.
Parmenter previously stated that he wouldn’t spend cash the club didn’t have to try and stay in the National League – however believes a competitive playing budget in National League South would be just a tenth of what clubs need to compete in the National League.
“To compete in the National League now, you need £3 million to £4 million. The average playing budget in National League South I know is little more than £350,000 to £400,000.
“That’s about half what our playing budget would be in the National League.
“But our playing budget in the National League is nowhere near big enough to compete with the big clubs.”
After being questioned if Dover would have a bigger playing budget next season, he added: “Well, we won’t need it because the budget that we have had for this season would be in the top 20% of the South.
“People have to understand that the amount of money that’s needed in this league now makes it uncompetitive for teams like Dover.
“You have got teams coming down, two a year, with a £1.5m parachute payment in their back pocket. Some of these bigger clubs are getting 5,000-10,000 crowds.
“They have got big catchment areas, big conurbations around them, and they are taking lots of money. We are working with a crowd, even when we were doing well in the National League, of maybe 1,100.
“We have got a 180-degree catchment area and we have never had a parachute payment in our life which, I think, is probably the biggest evil that’s ever hit football – and certainly the National League.”
“The problem you have got with Academy players at our level is, of course, they are not protected.
“As soon as we start to introduce them to men’s football, we find the vultures are on the fence, trying to take them for bigger clubs.
“That’s the issue we have got. What sort of compensation or protection do we get with Academy players?”
“I’ve navigated the club through the tough times of Covid,” he stated on attendances and frustrated fans.
“I have done what I said I would do, which is make sure we have no debt so we can start next season debt-free, and in a position so we have a budget that is competitive in National League South.
“I understand the disappointments and frustrations. They’re no more than the ones that I have.
“We are going to build for next season and to try and be competitive.”
And Parameter is looking forward to playing in National League South – and the derbies which will come with doing so.
He added: “To be honest, I’m quite looking forward to it – local derbies. There’s some great clubs in National League South, there’s great clubs in Kent.
“We need to get some enjoyment back into the game and we need to get some crowd involvement. We need to get some local involvement in the game.
“For too long, we have been travelling the length and breadth of the country on reduced budgets, trying to compete with the likes of Stockport who are paying £500,000 for a player. We can’t do it.
“It’s stupid of us to throw money at trying to do it.”
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler, who will stay at the club next season, said post-match: “It’s a sad day, obviously, going out of the division.
“But it would have been a sadder day if there wasn’t going to be a football club here next season.
“The one thing there will be is a football club next season, competing in National League South at a level they will be able to compete at.
“(It was a) poor performance, to be fair. We can’t hide from that.
“A lot of players didn’t get going. There were too many off their game for me.
“We went to Halifax last week (losing 2-1) and they were on their game. That’s been the story of our season – too inconsistent.
“But credit to the young boys that came on and the young boys that started. I thought Alfie Pavey was excellent, put himself about but, other than that, there weren’t too many good performances.
“There wasn’t a lot in the game. They only had one shot in the second half, we had one shot.
“The first goal was poor from us. Second goal, I don’t think it was a foul leading up to it.
“But we can’t rely on the officials – they were poor again. It wasn’t good today.”
Hessenthaler, who was without nine first-team squad players, went on: “We were limited with numbers in terms of the squad because we have got too many injuries, which I’m disappointed with.
“So we had a few young players on the bench. You can’t blame the officials all the time but they were poor today.
“The second goal, for me, definitely was a good challenge. You saw where the ball went. But we have made some poor decisions (as well).
“It wasn’t a good game, was it?”