By Steven Oldham
Leamington chairman Jim Scott believes now is the perfect time for non-league clubs to cut costs and live within their means.
He thinks wages from Championship level down have been inflated for a number of years and cannot continue. Scott takes pride in the sensible financial approach his club takes, and thinks other clubs should cut their cloth accordingly, with uncertainty over future sponsorship income.
“You would hope clubs stop spending money that they don’t have,” he said. “There are clubs at Step 3 paying 50-100% more than we offer.”
“Really? Is this realistic for clubs at this level?
“Clubs are paying what people would consider to be a good wage, for a part-time job. We have been, and will continue to be very prudent.
“We generally offer one-year contracts. Having lost a club in the past, we won’t allow that to happen again.”
After seeing his team finish 18th in the points-per-game-adjusted National League North table – one place lower than their on-field efforts merited – he admits preparations for the new season can only go so far.
“We can’t do that much until we have clarity of when the season will start again. Sponsors are wary about putting money forward – they just want to survive.
“I can’t blame them; I’d be exactly the same. All of this affects what budgets clubs will have going forwards.
“What we need most is clarity – and unfortunately, there isn’t much clarity from the National League. The communication from them in this time has been poor.
“I will say that the National League have done a good job in making sure clubs are on top of their finances; HMRC payments and so on. Go back five years, and you couldn’t say that, at this level.”
Despite the reduced income across the whole game, Scott thinks some clubs may see it as an opportunity to make a title bid.
“There will be clubs out there watching others cutting back and thinking this is the right time to get players in and give promotion a good go. It’s a risk, but some will think it’s a risk worth taking.”
During this uncertain time, there have been calls for further regionalising, both in League Two and the National League steps to cut travelling time, and therefore, costs. Scott is not a fan.
“How many times do you cut the country up? If clubs look at the expense, travelling is only a small percentage compared to wages.
“Even timing-wise, our longest journey is Blyth; we don’t leave ‘til 7.30am, so it’s not that much of an issue. The problem is in the National League; trips like Dover to Barrow, and when overnight stays are needed, that’s where the expense comes.
“We have a system where we want clubs to be promoted and progress.”
Interview/article by @spoldham