Banbury United Annual General Meeting: The financial state and ownership of the club revealed

Spencer Stadium
Spencer Stadium

Banbury United directors are owed more than £60,000 they have loaned to the club to keep it afloat, it emerged at last night’s (Wednesday’s) AGM at Spencer Stadium.

Treasurer Paul Jones presented the club’s accounts to a concerned 50-strong group of supporters outlining the club’s difficult financial position.

Mr Jones said the club owed £48,000 to its directors, but that figure rose by around a further £16,000 in 2014.

It was also announced chairman KIm Dumbleton has joined the board of loanees who are sinking their own money into the club, which currently can’t afford to pay them back.

Mr Jones said: “The loan situation is concerning because it’s increasing again.

“In my view the only way we’re going to solve the loan situation is with an FA Cup or FA Trophy run.

“What I’m saying is if we’re out of the FA Cup in the first round wer’re going to have to make some serious decisions in September rather than February.”

Without a good cup run Mr Jones said it would be almost impossible to find the £1,000 per week expenses needed to pay players who can be competitive in the Calor League Southern.

However, he added: “We’re nowhere near as threatened as other clubs like Hereford or Salisbury, or other clubs who owe hundreds of thousands.”

Mr Dumbleton told the meeting some the club’s financial woes date back to when it was sold to former owner Jed McCrory, whom he said signed a contract to pay the club £48,000 in four instalments in return for shares.

Mr Jones said Mr McCrory only made one payment of £12,00 and despite efforts to contact him by phone and email and to approach him through solicitors he had remained out of contact for some time.

The board said Mr McCrory is understood to have since sold on the club to his friend Martin King.

Banbury United secretary Barry Worsley said, in hindsight, the board regretted its decision to bring in Mr McCrory but said at the time promises he made to improve the club were convincing.

Mr McCrory recently lost a High Court battle for ownership of Swindon Town which left him with £50,000 legal fees.

Mr Jones said Banbury United has an average gate of 250, raising £1,700 per month, but pays out around £1,720 in basic running costs not including the wage bill for the players.

He said sponsors and revenue from the hiring out the clubhouse and other forms of income need to be generated in order for the club to pay its players this season and avoid relying on the directors continuing to bail the club out.

He said: “We’ve got a bit of money to find before we can kick on and think about next season.”

Mr Jones said the loan payments and running costs are preventing any thought of being able to move to a new ground and confirmed the club would not be running a reserve team or youth team next season, which would save around £500 per month.

He said: “The main reason is because of the cost and that neither team managed to finish it’s campaign last season, which is a terrible shame.

“It’s a great disappointment but I’m sure there’s not many people worried about it here or they would come down and support the teams.”

The board expressed their support for manager Edwin Stein, who was not present at the meeting, but Mr Dumbleton said there would be an end to the ‘revolving door’ policy where players repeatedly left and were replaced by others last season.

He said sometimes players brought in from clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur were played just because of their reputation and existing players were sometimes left on the bench despite their superior ability.

Supporters and the board agreed the fact the club does not own Spencer Stadium has been the biggest cause of financial woes because it makes sponsors reluctant to sink money into the club.

The ground was originally left to the club by the Spencer family but was given to Faccenda Group Ltd as part of a deal to pay off debts accrued under a previous owner. The original documents leaving the ground to the club have apparently disappeared.

The meeting concluded with the board and supporters highlighting the positives at the club such as the excellently produced programme, the website, a newly-formed supporters club and the 20 or so junior teams who play across the schoolboy leagues around Banbury.

Mr Dumbleton said the club now needs more volunteers to help out with the running of the club, sponsorship for the forthcoming season and, above all, support from Banbury residents at the games.

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