Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
We Could be Next
By: Bill Osborne
Hull City officials received a nasty shock today when they turned up for work and found themselves locked out of Boothferry Park by order of David Lloyd the ground's owner who is presently in Australia.
Tomorrow the club faces a winding up order from Customs and Excise for an unpaid VAT bill of 500,000. If Hull City does eventually fold it will be a bitter blow to their fans.
Despite being one of Grimsby Town's past fiercest rivals, there should be no pleasure for Town fans in seeing what could be the demise of a fellow football club. If anything, it should serve as a warning of what could and might be for the Mariners.
Hull City are not alone. There are a number of clubs perched on the financial precipice with only the slightest nudge needed to send them tumbling into receivership and Grimsby Town may not be that far behind them.
Of the clubs that have fallen by the wayside in recent years, few have done so through bad business management. In almost every instance, their demise has followed a period of apathy among the fans and supporters. The sort of apathy that exists now in Grimsby.
So how close are the Mariners?
At the moment we are fighting to avoid relegation. If we achieve that we will do no more than reduce the clubs losses to a manageable level by virtue of the first division TV and other commercial income.
Our attendance figures are the worst in the division and are surpassed by some teams in the second and third divisions. It was estimated last season that we needed a full house at Blundell Park to achieve a break-even figure and it was revealed, that at that time, we were losing 15,000 pounds per week.
This season the attendances are much lower and one can assume that the loss per week is around 25,000 pounds.
We have a new stadium planned and unless the situation improves we may be building the final straw that breaks the back of Grimsby Town FC.
Fortunately the costs of building the stadium will be covered by grants, the sale of Blundell Park and commercial sponsorships but the running costs will be borne by the club and operating a stadium of that size will cost a lot more than running Blundell Park.
Clubs who have built new stadiums have averaged an increase of approximately 57% in attendances. Our average home gate this season is 5,463. With a 57% increase we would achieve an average of approximately 8,500. Gate receipts that would not produce a break-even figure at Blundell Park but it is expected that there will be a higher income from the commercial opportunities and activities at the new stadium that will help to offset some of the costs.
With the addition of the TV money it is likely that the club could survive in the short term. However we are not in the new stadium yet and there are no guarantees that we will survive in the first division this time around.
If we do not retain our first division status this season it is possible that this could be the catalyst that brings about the demise of the Mariners. The gate receipts will be further decreased if current attitudes prevail and that is almost a certain death sentence.
The question is; would it matter? The current 5,000-6,000 people who can be classed as loyal committed supporters will be horrified by that very suggestion but a football club is a community resource, and looking at the current support the Mariners receive from the community, the issue is wether the community deserves a Football Club at all.
Simply put, there are too many "If" supporters in Grimsby who will sit back and watch the club die saying "I will go if - The board put money in, we win more games, we buy more players etc. etc. etc."
Hull City supporters said that. Look where they are now. 2 years is the maximum time our club can last in my opinion. There again, I could be wrong. What do you think?
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