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.