The Hereford Football Club Annual General Meeting is to be held on Thursday, 26 January. The figures make grim reading. Mistakes have been made, but changes to ensure the club are “open and transparent” can and, in my opinion, must be made. There is a route forward.
Here is an extract from my Talking Bull TB136 editorial from November 2022.
I wonder whether in the years to come that dramatic Monday FA Cup draw at Alvechurch will become increasingly cherished. That punching the air moment when we were paired with Portsmouth. The occasion was dramatic enough but more important was the estimated £100,000+ boost to the club bank balance.
Our club were heading towards financial difficulties without this new money. As one fan bluntly put it “Since Beadle has left, our club has lost over half a million quid with very little to show for it.” History painfully and repeatedly reminds us what happens when Edgar Street clubs don’t get those basics right. All the money raised by Hereford supporters through HUST is spent. All the benefactors’ money is spent.
In 2019, Hereford had a cash reserve of £535,000. We made losses in 2020, 2021 while 2022 looks like another shocker. The final figure will not be revealed until the AGM in late January – a concern in itself – though a figure mentioned at a Chairmans chat implied a loss north of £200,000. We’re supposed to trust our leadership that these losses were not so great as to put our club in danger. Our own club rules do not allow us to go into debt in most circumstances. And quite rightly without an investor/ grade A mug to bear the losses.
An open and transparent measurable plan to stop these annual losses is needed urgently. We cannot rely on luck-of-the-draw windfalls to patch over continual spending beyond our means. As a club, we must do better as I believe shareholders sharply pointed out during a meeting with the Board in November. The Pompey money gives us another shot. We must make wiser, more considered decisions and perhaps learn from others.”
Two months on, more and more supporters are expressing concern that our club consistently spend more than they take in. The latest losses for 21/22 turn out to be £230,000 which is the third straight year of red figures. Back in 2015, Jon Hale had this to say in a radio interview for BBC Hereford and Worcester.
“One of the things we have committed to is that our plans and budgets will be sustainable. There is simply no other way of doing it, and if that means we don’t sign a player and someone else does well so be it. If it doesn’t fit the budget it doesn’t happen. That is how I run my business. That is how other people in our group run their businesses. That’s how we will run the football club.”
Times change. And there is mitigation such as covid.
But principles… basic financial principles… should not change. Edgar Street history teaches us that. It’s what we bought into.
Shareholders – remember those are the people which allow our club to exist – have in recent years not received profit and loss information. It’s bottom-line stuff which offers clarity in which areas the losses are being incurred. Without these details, it’s largely guesswork or relying on old quotes for pointers. Not healthy.
We need our shareholders to demand urgent remedial action, and to restore openness and transparency around our club.
And – be it ever thus at Edgar Street – we need our supporters to attend home games and to support whatever fundraising efforts they can. I do wish that some people can look beyond a perceived dislike of one person and look at the bigger picture. It’s Scottish weather syndrome – if you don’t like what you’ve got, just be a bit patient. There will be something different soon enough. I am not keen in selling 50/50 tickets in heavy rain, but I see the greater need.
The turnout for the visit of Scarborough was bigger than anyone dared hope. So very pleasing. Some fans found tortuous ways to get to the Street despite the train strike. Others, knowing they couldn’t make it, made donations. That was a brilliant effort and just thanks to you for being there, or helping out financially. Our football club are unbeaten in 2023.
Farsley Celtic on a Tuesday is a little short on sex appeal. Poor sods – there are very public indications the Celts are in big financial difficulties and their support has no safeguards or leverage. Don’t let us become Farsley. Support your club. Be there if you can.
It’s wet, it’s after work, transport can be a pain but come on, let’s help each other.
Encourage each other. Offer lifts to fans. If you can’t be there, at least consider buying 50/50 or Golden Goal tickets online. Every little helps.
If shareholders and other supporters work together, we can turn this situation around.