On the back of the club email bulletin yesterday which informed us of impending cost restructuring as we adjust our finances to League One (25 more club staff to go), a letter to shareholders from Derek Chappell landed on my doormat this morning. It's another piece in the overall decline of the club's financial position.
The Board have been looking at raising capital to help keep the club working during the turmoil of the coming months and, top of the list of things within their control, appears to be the sale of the club's training and development grounds in New Eltham as well as the two empty houses the club owns in Lansdowne Mews (the ones which the Stewards use on matchdays). On first pass, this looks like a startling development, but the training facilities are being purchased by Richard Murray, Sir Maurice Hatter and Robert Whitehand for £1.3m and effectively leased back to the club on a 25 year lease. Not ideal but needs must I guess. Robert Whitehand is also acquiring the two properties in Lansdowne Mews for £200,000 (they are in a poor state of repair), so funds raised will be up to £1.5m.
Additionally, the Chairman tells us he is loaning the club another £500,000 which he "will review the status of..at the beginning of the season."
I suspect the £2m of funding provided here will be needed to help address the anticipating loss of £10m on operating turnover associated with the fall into League One. Players sales and wage reductions will presumably make a bigger dent in the revenue loss and ongoing belt-tightening at the Valley will help, although you have to assume there will still be a significant gap that will need to be managed.
With the big boys putting their hands in their pockets again (albeit for collateral in some cases), it seems churlish for some of us season-ticket holders to be having the "will-I, won't-I" debate in terms of renewing. As depressed and frustrated as I have become this season, I will be at the Valley again next season, come-what-may, and I have decided today that I will renew at the first opportunity. I can't do much to help, but I can do that.