An update has been given on the future of Dover Athletic after the chairman stated they could be forced out of existence by the end of August.
It was just three weeks ago when worrying news emerged from Jim Parmenter who issued a statement in which he said the club have to go down that route at the end of this month if their financial situation doesn’t improve.
The entire playing staff was made available for free transfer at the start of this month after they rejected a 20% reduction in pay.
Player/coach Lee Worgan along with Bobby-Joe Taylor and Nassim L’Ghoul have all left and the National League club still need to reduce their wage bill, with six players yet to agree to a wage cut.
In an interview with the club’s DAFCtv channel , Mr Parmenter said: “We’re still facing some tremendous challenges and some very difficult times.
“We know that we can now start the season and we’re going to work hard to make sure we can get through the season but it would be wrong to pretend that we’re not facing some more challenges.
“The big one is that we’re trying to cut the wage bill. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to agree with all of the players. Five have agreed, along with the management team, to cut their salaries whereas six haven’t done.
“Unfortunately, the six that haven’t done are the six highest-paid players and we won’t cut some without others. We won’t punish some members of staff to subsidise others so at the moment we’re still paying full salaries.
“The five that have agreed are off the transfer list, the six that haven’t agreed are very much on the transfer list. Part of balancing our books will be to try and move some of those players on or hopefully to get some sort of agreement with the players as a group so that we can balance our books.”
One way to save some money is to switch the club’s training base from Cobdown based side K Sports to the Crabble.
“We’re not training at our training ground to try and save money,” added Mr Parmenter. “We’re going to be training here at Crabble four days a week which will give us some cost saving. Every area of the club where we can, we’re cutting our costs.”
Dover, who announced a new kit deal with supplier Kappa this week, are also looking for a new shirt sponsor.
They’ve received great financial support from supporters in recent weeks – it shows “that people care” he said – while there should be some new faces in the playing squad shortly.
“Our policy is very clear,” he continued. “We’ve got 30 players training at the moment. We had 11 signed on when we started and by the end of this week we’re hoping to have 15, going towards a squad of 18 or 19.
“We won’t hurry with the others because we know exactly what we’re looking for. It has to fit in with our cost availability and there’s a lot of players out there looking for jobs.”
The Dover chairman also asked the fanbase to purchase a season ticket if possible, saying: “It helps with the finances but also with the Covid pandemic we need to put facilities in place at the ground which will be easier to do if we have a majority of season-ticket holders.”
The National League season is due to start on the 3rd of October, though fixtures are still yet to be released, leaving clubs at that level in limbo in terms of preparation.
Two weeks ago, Parmenter reveals how much they need to balance the books.
“We’ve had no income since March 11th at all, we had approximately 25 employees then, that’s down to about 18 now and thank goodness for the government’s furlough scheme because that’s enabled us to keep everybody employed on that, but now the money’s just virtually run out.
“We’ve now got to start doing budgets for next season, we have to put a balanced budget to the league before we start and at the moment our expenditure is not balancing with our income, so we’ve got to find a way of trying to improve that otherwise we can’t trade.
“All avenues are still open, we’re talking to see if we can raise any funds, we’re looking at places we can cut costs but we’ve virtually cut every cost we can and of course our biggest cost is wages by some margin, something like 80 per cent of our costs.
“At the moment we’re not able to negotiate anything there apart from the management team. We’re not able to negotiate with the players a reduction and that is causing us the issue.
“We spent a lot of time explaining to the players and I was quite clear and candid with them we need a 20 per cent reduction of gross salary for a limited time in order that we can move the club forward and balance the books.
“It will still be a challenge even at that and it’s still a risk because we still don’t know when the season’s going to start and we have to start training at the beginning of September, so we will be taking a big financial risk anyway, but we think if the players accept a 20 per cent deduction we can get through.
“A promise of payment is a liability and whilst we can say when things get back to normal of course we’ll move the wages back to normal we can’t say when that will be and we can’t promise it because we just don’t know.
“It’s a great shame, it’s a great sadness because we put together a good group of players and we were really hopeful, but they are available now for free transfer because we have to cut costs and one of the ways we can do that is to move players on to other clubs and employ different players on less money.
“It’s been the culmination of 15 years of blood, sweat and tears and several millions of pounds investment on my part to put the infrastructure in place and to start building the club to football league standard.
“We were four points off the playoffs when it all finished and in a really good position, so it’s really hit us hard. But you know, facts are facts and it’s a limited company – we have to be solvent in order to be able to trade.
“For me and my family, the whole family have been involved for 15 years – I took it out of bankruptcy when we took it over in 2005 and we’ve built it up now to a football league standard club which has been our lives for 15 years and we’ve invested every penny that we can but this challenge is just too much for us financially and we need some help.
“It’s not a particularly attractive investment any football club at this current time so the best thing we can do is try and cut our costs and move forward in that way.
“Apart from the gate money there’s all the catering venues during match day, the bar, we let out rooms for weddings and birthday parties on a regular basis. The Striker Lottery has been closed down, all our income streams have gone away.
“We rely heavily on local sponsorship and they’re all struggling – some of them are out of business but none of them have got spare cash to sponsor a football club at the moment. so it really is quite a dire situation.
“We’re running at about a £1.4 million cost to keep the club going and we’re obviously going to cut that this year but we reckon we’re about a quarter of a million short of where we need to be to balance the books at the moment.
“One of the problem we face is we don’t actually know what sort of crowd we can have yet. They’re talking anything between 15 and 25 per cent of normal capacity but there’s all sorts of restrictions around that.
“The due date to start is the 3rd of October, so currently we don’t know if we will start then and we don’t know what we’ll be allowed to let into the ground.
“We’re obviously going to prioritise season ticket holders, so we’re hoping that we can sell a few (season tickets) to help us and those season ticket holders will get priority for the games but as to how many people come into the ground we just don’t know.
“Given what’s happening in the world now, the signs are that the league may start late October rather than early October.
“Will the club still be here? Well, I’m going to do everything I can do to make sure it is but I need help as I can’t do it on my own.”