Marlow FC are bracing themselves for the loss of several key players, and steeling themselves for a fight against relegation, after the club announced it was cutting the playing budget by 50 percent.

Manager Mark Bartley has been busy contacting his squad this week to see which of them will remain loyal to him and Marlow until the end of the season. But he’s expecting five or six of the squad’s better players will be lured away from Oak Tree Road in the coming weeks.

In fact, there’s a chance he’ll struggle to get a side out for Saturday’s trip to Hayes & Yeading United, even though he’s had some ‘encouraging messages’ from players suggesting they’ll stand by him. Even if they do stay in the short-term, Bartley fears that other clubs will pick off their most talented players like vultures in the coming weeks and months.

The manager himself has confirmed he’ll stay to the end of the season at least, adding that he could never walk out on chairman Terry Staines and leave the club in the lurch. How many of his players show the same loyalty remains to be seen.

“The long and the short of it is that the playing budget has been cut by half,” said Bartley. “I’ve been trying to manage that situation this week and seeing which players will commit.

“The club will be taking 50 per cent off the playing budget. Now that’s obviously not a blanket cut for everyone, but we weren’t exactly at the top end of the budgets for this level anyway, so it makes life very difficult.

“I would expect there will be one or two players moving on this side of the weekend, or just after it. And, at the moment, I have to make sure that I’ve got enough players willing to go to Hayes & Yeading on Saturday.”

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