By Callum Crabtree

As the famous saying goes, ‘the show must go on’, which a plethora of non-league clubs are having to abide by in these uncertain times.

Maintenance work, contract renewals, financial outlays for the future all need to be done, yet football remains at a standstill.

Victor Aguera, secretary of the Bromsgrove Sporting Supporters Society, ensures that the fans have their say in the dealings of the club during the lockdown period.

“The Supporters Trust is democratically formed of fans that can form part of the board. As a trust, we’ve bought up to 45% of the shares so there’s not one single person in charge of the club, which was what led to the demise of Bromsgrove Rovers.

“We work with Supporters Direct, the national organisation to help the way we’re formed, and we’re basically guardians of the club to ensure no one who isn’t fit for purpose takes charge of the club and takes it into a direction that leads it to going out of existence.

“We also have open engagement with our members about important things. For example, if we were to buy a new irrigation system, which would cost thousands of pounds, is that appropriate for this time or would it be more of an investment for the future?

“We’ve got interests for the club at heart, but need to balance things out in a business type of way.”

During these times, social distancing has meant conventional ways of conducting meetings have been put on hold. So, the Trust has adapted to the new way of living and incorporated Zoom into the way they handle business.

“We have a monthly meeting and we’ve used Zoom during this time. We have our next one next week so we can continue meeting as a board.

“The sort of things that we’ve discussed are the club’s finances moving forward, and what other ways of raising money there are when there’s no income coming in through gate receipts. We’ve supported the club in setting up a lottery during this period to ensure there is some money coming in.

“Underneath the main points, there lies a lot of little things we have to look at, such as the general maintenance of the ground and if that can be done safely. In these circumstances, we also have to deem whether that is essential work or not, but the main point is seeing if there’s any way we can support the club, by raising money and minimising costs.”

Many clubs have had to furlough players and staff during these difficult times to help ensure their long-term safety. Victor admits that due to the contractual terms of players at the club, no furloughing has had to be completed.

“There are very few players on contract, as we’re a semi-professional football club. Essentially, we no longer have a squad like a lot of other clubs at this level.

“It’s now a question of when the games restart, so the manager will be able to re-assemble the squad,” he continued. “I’m sure many of the players who were a part of the squad this year will be available and they’ll want to come back and play again for the team.

“But, as I said, we don’t have more than two or three players on contract, and those don’t normally last more than a year anyway, so it’s not been an issue of having a difficult conversation with them. 80% of our players are on a pay-per-game basis, so they’re registered until the end of the season, and the few players that are on contracts, they’re maintained until the end of the season and then that’s it.

“That’s the nature of where we are at this level of football.”

Victor also said that the players will need no reminder of the importance of maintaining a good level of fitness during this extended off-season.

“Our players are good lads and they look after themselves, and they’ll continue to do that in this lockdown. We can’t do any training at the moment but a lot of the lads have got links to the leisure industry, whether that be as personal trainers or something along those lines, so they’ll be making sure they’re fit for the main jobs as well!”

Before the lockdown, The Rouslers were competing at the right end of the Southern Premier Central, as they occupied one of the four play-off places.

Putting the off-field worries of the Coronavirus pandemic aside, Victor expects Sporting to be just fine on the field in a year from now.

“I see us competing for promotion to the next tier, whether that’s the National League North or South. When the season finished, we were competing for promotion, and I expect us to be in a similar position again next year.”

Interview/article by @CallumCLC

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