At Christmas last year we were handily placed. A terrible Christmas period yes, but the playoffs were in reach. The squad needed freshening, rejuvenating or shooting, take your pick. What is indisputable is that Mills needed funds. Did we have the funds to give him? Well that is an interesting question.
Mills did an amazing job in turning our form round. Simon Heslop was an inspired signing, an unreserved success. Louis Briscoe contributed minimally, and his form at Torquay didn’t suggest he would manage much more. Mason Watkins-Clarke wasn’t really needed and probably didn’t cost anything. Mark Beck looked good with back-to -goal laying the ball off, but with no goals provided we were left with the untested Jackson to run round like an insect that has sat in some paint. In summary Mills turned it round, but the funds he was given were insufficient to turn us into playoffs contenders.
We could have spent more in January, we should have spent more in January. Football is about taking chances when they arise, and we missed a chance. The Board would respond to me by saying they cannot endanger the sustainability of the Club in risky ventures. I’m not asking the Board to risk the Club’s future, I’m asking for them to be better at accountancy.
‘Football fortune’ is the name given to money made by the Club over and above budgeted gate receipts. It’s money we don’t budget for (wrongly) because we can’t rely on getting it. Here is an incomplete list of recent ‘fortune’:
2013- Play-off final, Brighton FA cup match, FA Trophy Winners.
2014 – Sale of Bradley Reid (£250,000)
2015 – FA cup v Stoke. FA Trophy finalists. Anniversary Celebrations.
2016 – Louis Moult Sale, excess gate receipts, Danny Ward windfall.
The point I want to stress about this ‘fortune’ is that my list shows fortune EVERY year. It would be extremely unwise to budget as if ‘fortune’ came in every year. It is equally unwise to budget assuming it NEVER arrives. If you budget conservatively you miss out on the chances that are thrown up. You end up with Mark Beck up front, Louis Briscoe on the bench and an accountant telling you he’s done a good job.
Looking prudently at the history of our football fortune in the Conference we can confidently expect football fortune every three years, in the region of £300,000. We might get smaller amounts more regularly or greater amounts less often, but my estimate keeps our finances in a comfort zone.
This means we should have a playing budget of £100,000 more, or perhaps a January budget of £100,00 more. Get it spent!