Having gained promotion to the Vanarama League system, Hereford FC will now need to embrace full professionalism. It is obvious the club have endeavoured to operate with high standards right from the outset, and have reaped the rewards accordingly. However, the next challenge will be huge as there will be calls to go full-time. Talking Bull contributor Steve Hughes looks ahead.
To go full-time, partly full-time or stay part-time. That is the question.
It’s a debate which will no doubt be in the minds of Bulls fans in the summer ahead of the 2018-19 season. Having achieved promotion into the National North/ South we all know the squad will need to be strengthened if we are to be among the front runners at the new level. Maintaining momentum is the key.
In order to recruit the right calibre of player we will have to invest in a larger financial budget. Is it necessary to have all full-time players, some part-time, or can we stay fully part time? Weighing up these three options we can see the relative advantages and disadvantages of each:
A] All full-time has the advantage of fitness, more time to develop technical planning aspects. However, it has the disadvantage of the financial implications of a higher wage bill.
B] Some full-time players means a core of the squad should be fitter and able to support some quality part timers. The disadvantage lies in the availability of part time players to train alongside these full time players. However, at this level this option may be sufficient and help keep the running costs down.
C] If the squad are part time only this has the advantage of the lower financial budget. It could attract some experienced players who are looking for a career outside football when the league clubs are unable to offer them anything more full time. The disadvantage is less fitness and time to train together as often. However, some part timers are able to compete well as we’ve seen in our FA Cup exploits recently. It seems the key is the recruitment process and motivation of the individual.
Hereford FC, and their predecessor Hereford United, have shown their ability to attract some quality young players on loan from higher graded teams. This may help get round some of the fitness aspects, and in some cases the financial side of things.
If we go down the full-time route it does mean we really have to build a squad that can go forward to the next level of the National League because that would justify the extra cost in the budget. We would not wish to sign full time players who are just looking to see out another year of their career.
If the club decide upon the option of some full-time players, we could supplement the squad with some key developing loan players from higher ranked teams. The squad could then be completed with a small number of part time players with a proven track record at the level.
Finally, a choice of all part time players may prove to be a gamble when competing against sides of full time players. These teams would be a handful in terms of quality and fitness. The danger is we would lose the momentum we have so far gained, and whilst the cost-saving may be good short-term, overall revenue levels will drop as the team are unlikely to be competitive, and attendances will fall.
Therefore, as a club as we are at present I would opt for option B. It would not over stretch the budget as much as a totally full-time squad may. With careful management in terms of recruitment and the bolstering of the squad with good use of the loan system we could have a very competitive team. If the side were to remain successful the crowds would keep coming and support the club. This would provide flexibility in terms of the budget which can be seen to be sustainable, and allow us to develop the squad as and when we need to do so.
We all know that we do not want to repeat the demise of Hereford United in financial terms, and we do want to keep stability.
Keep the Faith.