Well, where do I begin? Less than 24 hours after yesterday’s huge announcement from Barnet FC and what I believe is the first of many to come over the next few weeks and months, it’s still raw in the thinking and the mind and emotions are no doubt running high through the fanbase. What I will try to be is objective, sensible but not here to defend either side of this, at the end of the day I am a fan first and foremost but having run my own business I can understand the financial aspect, thats not to say it’s right or wrong, please remember that! So, grab a cuppa, snacks whatever, sit down and have a read……..
This time last week I had a sore throat having watched my beloved Bees play out of their skins to beat Woking 3-1 and move to within one point of the play-offs with four games in hand, one defeat in about seventeen games and the club looking like it was on the up again. I stated on Twitter yesterday that seven days is a long time in football, and that can’t be more true than the world coming crashing down at The Hive throughout the day. I will point out that defeating this virus is bigger than anything at the moment, football though is a great relief and social aspect to many around the world and there is a very big worry of an increase in mental health issues that are going to result from the complete shutdown.
I first became aware of issues and rumours surrounding Barnet FC on Monday evening, privately messaged by a couple of friends to see if I knew or had heard anything given that I have been privy to knowing more than I ever had before within football clubs, not just Barnet. As it was at the time I wasn’t aware of anything than had been seen on Twitter that the club were laying off the academy staff or putting them ‘on notice’.
Tuesday morning become a different story and what evolved during that day looks as if it will alter the course of the future for my football club. Having woken to a couple more messages of people asking if I knew the story, I had to dig a little deeper. Again, at the time it was still speculation but what I was hearing is one of those things you pray is not going to be the final outcome.
Unfortunately after much checking of my phone whilst working in the afternoon, the reality hit and all that had been feared by others was indeed true, Barnet FC the first club to find trouble in this unprecedented situation with 60 staff being put on notice of redundancy, which was to include Darren Currie, Junior Lewis and the backroom first team staff. Not only was this the academy being hit, the social media, office and anyone not a contracted player.
This is people with mortgages, rent, food to buy, bills to pay, regular people just like you and me suddenly gone within a few weeks, I’m not dressing this up any different to those already laid off in other jobs nor those for it still to come as it inevitably will, but I can’t comment for them. I was aware the funding for the academy would cease at the end of this season due to this being the second year out of the Football League, businessmen would say this is a sensible move to cut the cloth with no sight to be able to see when and indeed if this season would resume and end. As a person though, it hits the emotions hard especially when you have a contact and an association with it, it’s not pleasant and I don’t doubt we will so much more of it going forward.
To lump the first team in with this is where it makes no sense, I don’t just say this because I have a relationship with Darren and Junior. I believe, and this is my own personal opinion, four days into this crisis and not seeing anyone else show their hand is too quick for me, I don’t profess to know the details of Barnet’s accounts in any way. But, we as supporters have been led to believe that The Hive allows the club to compete with bigger clubs given the size and all within that complex. Should and it’s a big if here, if the season was to be played out to a conclusion at some stage, what for the first team? Would Darren still be on his notice period? Would Junior and the others want to come back? Would the players refuse to play? Questions for another day but will still be asked.
I am aware we lose money, smaller crowds this season are well under the budget set back in 2019 and those losses have to be brought back in line somewhere, the Jack Taylor transfer money would surely have covered a majority of this? If two years ago the club had a budget as good as any in League Two, where have we gone wrong? Squandered? Mismanaged? Natural at this level? I don’t know the answer, we can all speculate as to the reason, only one man probably knows what has really happened.
If the quote yesterday that as a club it was ‘throwing’ £100,000 on player wages just to try and get promoted then honestly that makes my chairman no better than most in football, gambling on the future. We’ve always been led to believe the club is pretty stable and financially ok when the chairman has been challenged in Q&A sessions, either hollow words or a massive bending of the truth.
What does the future hold? How can you answer that in the current climate? I know of other clubs in danger, I won’t divulge who as I respect the people with the information, I’m sure now many more will over the next few days be entering the same kind of thing, the footballing landscape could potentially move and change so much without help and bail-outs, not once did I ever consider my club would be the first in line, it just goes to show seven days is a long time in football…………