The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Spend it wisely

20 March 2019

Thunderdiary writes: There's been a lot made of budgets recently, what with Paul Hurst's hilarious Portakabin story and Jolley intimating that Town are actually overperforming in terms of their league position relative to their spend on playing staff.

Town are currently 16th in the table, which would mean the club's budget is in the bottom third. So most clubs in the division spend more than us on players.

But what is a budget? Is it the money spent on wages? Does it include transfer fees, agents' fees, or signing-on fees? Does it cover non-playing staff? And how closely does it relate to a club's league position?

Well, PriceOfFootball on Twitter recently ranked several clubs on their wage bill of 2017.  Town were near the bottom on £2.3million. The two highest were Portsmouth and Luton, who were both promoted, with Blackpool going up in the play-offs, also above Town.

So far, so logical, but Accringtom proved last year that you can win the league with a low budget. You also win the league with a stable manager, a coherent chairman and a magnetic location.

If Town are in the bottom third for budgets then being ninth for average attendance is striking. Does this mean the board are not supporting the manager?  Forest Green, currently in the play-off positions, have an average attendance that ranks them 21st. Either the number of conferences and Christmas parties in Nailsworth is going through the roof, or the owner is putting his money where his large mouth is.

It's hard to remember a time when we did have a budget to fight at the top end of a league table. Even in the Conference we were comfortably fifth or sixth at best, but you probably have to go back to the Wembley double season to see money being spent. At the beginning of the 1997-98 campaign Alan Buckley, using money from the sales of Clive Mendonca and John Oster, bought Paul Groves, Kevin Donovan and Lee Nogan for a total of £720,000. He added David Smith and Wayne Burnett later, during a campaign that ended spectacularly.  

Since then we've spent years either punching above our weight financially or dropping down the leagues with what appears to be little investment.

John Fenty has admitted that the club has probably not backed the manager properly this year, and there have been stories of proper bids rejected for players and amazing signings that didn't quite come off. But what would we rather? Overspending in chasing a promotion dream? Or sensible financial planning – and a long-term strategy where success comes because it has been built rather than bought?