By Callum Crabtree
In these adverse times, many clubs are experiencing the trials and tribulations the COVID-19 pandemic has immediately landed at their doorsteps. The uncertainty is rife and the unknown has left some clubs reeling with the failure to complete the season.
But for the village of North Ferriby, their football club has now succumbed to their second season in a row of being unable to compete until the end.
North Ferriby FC are the phoenix club finding their feet in the Northern Counties East League (Division One) after the liquidation of North Ferriby United. The latter infamously folded at the end of last season due to an unpaid bill of just £7,000.
Now, the new club have also failed to complete their first season, albeit through no fault of their own, which club secretary Andrew Frankland-Barber has at least seen the jovial side to.
“Effectively, we haven’t finished the last two seasons now!” he laughs.
“We got wound up at the end of last season, so hopefully next season, hopefully we’ll be able to complete a full one.”
Andrew has been present throughout the transitional process from the old club going under, to the phoenix club starting up again. He has also seen all the financial woes that led to the club’s demise.
However, he says there have fortunately been no monetary issues throughout the season, and throughout the pandemic thus far.
“On the basis of where we were in the season, we were financially in front,” he continued.
“There’s no debts and everything has been paid as we’ve been going along. It’s just a case of ticking along as we go through into the summer.”
The club were just inside the top four places in the NCEL when play was halted, which meant an instant promotion in their fledgling existence was achievable. Despite the obvious disappointment of the season being null and void, Andrew has said that it gives the chance for the squad to be even stronger for next season.
“You could look at it and say it’s disappointing or you could see it as an elongated pre-season for next season.
“One or two players this season haven’t been up to standard so at least we’ve got a chance to know the squad, so if we can get the same sort of squad ready for next season, we should be even stronger.
“The biggest monetary issue was that we didn’t get to maximise on some big games. Selby, who are 20 miles down the road from us, and the top four, had to come and visit us. They would’ve been big gates for us, as we would attract fans and they would bring a lot of fans as well.”
All clubs will strategically budget throughout the summer to maximise the facilities due to the lack of matchday income. North Ferriby are no different, and Andrew admits that they will be missing out on a vast amount of income.
“The biggest issue is that we can’t keep the clubhouse open during the summer to do any kind of fundraising. An end-of-season youth tournament was planned, along with a concert on a summer weekend,” he continued.
“Also, we were allocated an England U18s vs Scotland U18s game, which obviously, can no longer take place. It was another opportunity to profile the club and get a lot of people down to the ground, and now we have to wait and see if we get another allocation next season, or, that we’ve lost that opportunity full stop.”
Andrew admits that just 25 per cent of the income that the club generates is from matchday admissions, and highlights the need for outside sources of income in order for non-league clubs to stay afloat.
As previously mentioned, North Ferriby find themselves financially secure in these tough times, but what about other teams whose existence is under threat due to a lack of funding?
Andrew admits that the decision brought on by the governing bodies to suspend the season was right, but says it could have been extended slightly longer for non-league clubs to help achieve that extra income.
“I can understand why the Premiership came to a halt when it did, because you had Arsenal who went to Greece and came back with the virus, and when you have 60,000 people in the stadium, you have a problem there in social distancing.
“However, at our level, the last game we played was around 13th March, and the average crowd in our league is roughly 130. I think those 130 people could have spread themselves around the pitch very easily, so I think we were a bit hasty to call it off at our level, but I suppose it would have come to a halt anyway.”
Outside of the current situation, Andrew admits that North Ferriby are in a strong position, which is a relief to hear after the recent saga in the East Riding of Yorkshire.
“We’ve got ourselves into a situation where we were looking at promotion, and most of the lads want to come play for the manager. They’re all local lads who could easily earn more by playing further afield, but it’s not always about the financial gain.
“Most of our lads are happy to play for a club who are potentially going somewhere and can win trophies.”
Interview/article by @CallumCLC