Brora Rangers have furloughed their management and playing staff in a bid to fight a loss of £30,000 in revenue without football.
In a club statement posted on their website, the Cattachs have laid bare the cost of the shutdown on them, despite being crowned Highland League champions last month.
The loss of match-day income, plus the cancellation of fund-raising events and uncertainty over what league they will be in come the start of next season have contributed to the forecast.
Brora, as well as Lowland League winners Kelty Hearts, are on the outside looking in on the SPFL’s bid to end the football season in the Scottish lower leagues. Their initial proposal made no allowance for new entrants into the pyramid, which both are keen to push for.
Placing manager Steven Mackay, his coaching staff and the playing squad on the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme is the first measure Brora have taken to address the situation.
The statement reads: “Without games we have no income to sustain overhead payments and the starting position for our conversation was that regarding the players wages. Having spoken with Steven (Mackay) and he with the players I was delighted with the very positive and practical way which they responded.
“Very substantial pay cuts were agreed and the club are most grateful for the responsibility shown. I can also confirm that the club have furloughed their management and playing staff to take advantage of the HM Treasury offer of a proportion wage recovery. We await a response to our submission.
“We have been denied our championship run-in. which would have guaranteed large match day attendance and bumper take-ups at our hospitality offerings as well as the knock-on revenue streams from matchdays.
“All of the above will result in the loss of at least £30,000 of budgeted revenue and we are deeply concerned about the additional negative long-term impact on our regular income sources such as the sponsor pitch-side boards, merchandise, lotto sales, and other highly crucial sponsorship funding which keeps the club solvent.
“Fortuitously we have no debt but we have the normal commercial obligations which we must meet. Looking forward, the 2020/21 season will present ongoing challenges since our sponsors and individuals will all be under severe financial pressures as they try to recover from the crisis also. This will inevitably have a serious knock-on effect for the club.”
The Sutherland club, who would have contested a pyramid play-off with Kelty should the season have continued, went on to reveal that the disparity between finishing top of the Highland League and eighth in the SPFL was prize money of £48,000.
As it stands under the SPFL proposal, left in limbo awaiting the vote of Dundee, no club will be relegated from League 2, meaning bottom club Brechin City will be spared and Brora and Kelty denied the opportunity to go up. That is, however, meaningful league reconstruction can be achieved.
“You will all have been following the rapidly changing developments within the SPFL, and the hinterland there is changing almost daily. What is becoming increasingly evident is that there is an appetite to look seriously at league restructure and it is this restructure which hopefully will see Brora Rangers escalated into the SPFL.
“However absolutely nothing is yet agreed. With our friends at Kelty Hearts being awarded the Lowland League, both the governing bodies of these leagues are in concert to ensure that their champions are not denied the chance of progression. The Highland League has served Brora Rangers well and the club have contributed greatly to the fabric of the league, but the finances of participation have now moved on so far, that we need to hope that we can make it up to the next level of the food chain.
“I think we can reasonably hope to increase our gate money at the higher level. Our average crowds are no greater than 200 with over 60% of these being concessions. We need to work at changing that mix and SPFL membership should allow us to deliver this.
“For winning the Highland League we may get £2,000. Compare this to an 8th place finish £50,000 in the SPFL (£45,000 for 10th place up to £75,000 for 1st place) then we can see that participation becomes compelling.
“Now of course our fate remains in the hands of others as we are out of the tent looking in. However there has been a good deal of support from SPFL member teams for the inclusion of Brora and Kelty next season, and Raith Rovers,Stranraer and Edinburgh City have issued statements to support this.
“I have no doubt that we are in for a rollercoaster of emotions as information comes out from the meetings being held by the SPFL. Hopefully a decision can be reached and all clubs can at least know what the 2020/21 league set up will look like.”