The National League has charged Dover twice with a breach of Rule 8.39.
Dover Athletic can confirm that all management, players, and staff have now been furloughed to safeguard the club’s long-term future.
Chairman Jim Parmenter, who has funded the club for the past seven weeks after the initial government grant funding ended in December, said he had been left with no option but to make the decision to prevent the club from becoming insolvent.
“We are operating in unprecedented times. We have to make difficult decisions.
“We wanted to leave the decision that has been made as long as possible before making this final announcement in the hope a support package may appear.
“Unfortunately no support has been forthcoming, so it is with the deepest regret that the club must now furlough all staff and players and reduce operations to a bare minimum.
“All financial reserves have now been completely exhausted.
“For 15 years, I have run the club without debt and I do not intend to change that now.
“The club will be unable to fulfill further National League fixtures until appropriate funding is made available.”
As a result of this decision, our three loan players, Harry Ransom (Millwall), Ryan Hanson (Hull City), and Oliver Webber (Crystal Palace) have all returned to their parent clubs.
Everybody will be aware that Dover Athletic, along with many clubs, agreed to start this season back in October 2020 only if grant funding was made available.
It was agreed that this would be provided by the government for the first three months until December, with the clear understanding that if crowds did not return the funding would continue until such time as the situation returned to near normal.
As has been well publicised, that has turned out not to be the case. Sport England are now being given responsibility for offering funding to clubs, mainly in the form of loans, with grants available only in very exceptional circumstances.
I have always made it clear that I would not commit the club to a substantial loan that would impact the club for years to come, it would be irresponsible to burden a small club like Dover in this way and certainly does not make business sense to do so.
We have applied for a grant from Sport England, but I am not confident that it will be forthcoming and certainly not soon.
I continue to maintain that what is being offered by Sport England does not comply with the league’s own rules regarding clubs taking loans.
The league has for twenty years mandated clubs to live within their means and punished clubs if they did not, as a result, statutory tax debt was reduced to virtually nothing and insolvency events have become extremely rare, which has brought great credit to the league.
I am really concerned that the current direction of travel will force clubs to take financial risks they would not otherwise take, and I am determined that Dover Athletic will not be one of those clubs.
We play football for our fans and our community and in their absence, I can see no logic in burdening the club with hundreds of thousands of pounds of debt to complete a meaningless season.
Funding ended six weeks ago now and without any form of significant income stream I have had to continue to fund the club – this cannot continue and if action is not taken the club will become insolvent.
I have (as promised) run the club without debt for 15 years and I do not intend to change that now.
I firmly believe that the survival and future wellbeing of the club, its staff, supporters, and the wider community must come first. Taking the right action now will ensure that we can survive and start again next season (assuming our normal revenue streams are available by then).
Therefore, unless the situation changes in the next couple of days, I will have no option but to furlough all staff, cut all possible expenditure and cease football operations.
The current situation has taught me one thing; with the costs of surviving in the National league rising exponentially and our income is not, the club needs more backing than I can offer alone. It is my intention to open the door to interested parties who wish to invest in Dover Athletic either partially or in its entirety.
I continue to do everything I can to help the club navigate this greatly challenging time and hope that together we can get through this and come back stronger.
Dover Chairman, Jim Parmenter has today resigned as a Director of the National League.
In a letter sent to National League Chairman, Brian Barwick and members of the board, Mr Parmenter said: “I can no longer support the direction of travel that the board is taking and I’m afraid I can no longer be seen to be a party to actions which I absolutely disagree with.
“I accept that the board is a collective and whilst as a member, it is a prerequisite that, in public, the board and its Chairman are supported. I have therefore chosen to resign, in order to say what I really believe publicly.
“The lack of grant funding should have been properly addressed in late December or at least very early January. As it stands it is likely to be two months with no funds for clubs before any sort of resolution is forthcoming.
“I am in particular disagreement that the executive appears to be encouraging clubs to take large loans to complete the season, as I have said twice at board meetings I believe that the competition rules are being broken by allowing the proposed loans, let alone encouraging them. (Page 155 Appendices 08 of the rule book).
“The league has for ten years insisted that clubs manage their financial affairs prudently and has had great success and received much praise for the results, now that is all to be thrown to the dogs and for what?
“I understand why the bigger, richer clubs with chances of promotion are pushing hard to continue, but in a sense they are asking smaller clubs with no crowds or income who are playing for no reason to take large loans and probably overstretch themselves with dire consequences, to subsidise the larger clubs ambitions. I do not agree with that position.
“The board has very little credibility as an organisation within our clubs and I believe the decision to send letters to clubs who find it difficult to play, threatening sanctions was ill-conceived and will do nothing to unite the competition in what continues to be a very divisive time. Even if the vote is to continue I do not believe that the league will be able to continue in any credible form or with integrity for another five months.
“There are some very good people on the board and I do not seek to criticise individuals, but as a body, I do not believe we have shown strong, relevant leadership. Our governance has descended into chaos and some decisions made by the board seem to change when interpreted by the executive.”
Defender Will De Havilland shares his thoughts on Dover’s 3-1 win against Barnet.
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler gives his view on Whites’ 3-1 home win against Barnet.
Midfielder Oscar Gobern shared his thoughts following our 2-0 home loss against Solihull Moors on Saturday.
Andy Hessenthaler gives his view on Dover’s 2-0 home defeat to Solihull Moors.
We will now host Solihull Moors in the National League at Crabble this Saturday instead of February 2nd.
Both clubs have a free Saturday and under Rule 8.7, The League has now re-scheduled the fixture.
The game kicks-off at 3pm.
Our match away to Wealdstone on Tuesday 19th January has been postponed due the Stones now playing Gloucester City in the FA Trophy on Monday 18th January.
The FA Trophy match at Grosvenor Vale, due to have been played on Saturday 16th January, has been moved back two days due to a waterlogged pitch.
A new date for the National League fixture will be announced in due course.