By Gareth Owen
(Written by Ben Wiltshire)
A lot of people who think about football, tend to think about the riches and the celebrity lifestyle that the world’s best lead.
Unfortunately in the lower leagues of football the story is totally different and these last two weeks have been one of the toughest of my footballing career so far.
As players we knew that money in the club was not in large amounts but nothing had prepared us for what was to come over the last month.
After the 1-1 draw with Crewe, we were congratulated on our performance and then told that we were not going to be paid our wages for the week.
I looked around the dressing room and saw the faces of some of the players and they looked absolutely gutted and it was clear that they were worried about breaking the news to their families.
The worst thing about the news was due to the fact it was the first time that any of us were aware of any delays in payments and it made everyone realise that the club was in real financial difficulty.
Personally I thought that being an employee of a football club and not being told before was appalling, and to be told by the manager and not the chairman or the chief executive of the club was unacceptable as it shouldn’t have been the job of Micky Adams.
It was very hard to take the news, especially for the youth team at the club as they are on less money and had resulted in some of the players not being able to travel to games because they don’t have the money to fill their cars with fuel.
The situation really made me worried that the club would have to be liquidated when we were informed that there was no money in the club at all and we couldn’t afford a team coach to take us to the game against Accrington.
We were relying on the council to lend the club money so we could survive. Without the council the club would not still be going at this point in time. The manager then informed us that we would be entering administration but we would be getting paid.
What really has been the glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel for the club has been the fans. The support from the crowd has been brilliant and it’s really helped keep the team going, they raised £6,000 from a crowd of just over 5,000 and even two Stoke fans bought tickets for a game without watching just to give some money into the club.
Fortunately it has been agreed for the players to be paid 25% of their wages to try and get the ball rolling and get the club out of this financial situation.
It is very frustrating as we will be deducted 10 points and I truly believe we would have got promotion this season as our current form is good and we have a very strong position in the table.
I do think that the FA has questions to answer about the appointments of chairmen and owners because too many clubs are or have been in the situation that Port Vale are in now.
The FA’s ‘fit and proper person test’ sees whether someone is able to run a club as a chairman but with so many clubs going into administration it surely means that the chairman hasn’t done their job properly so maybe the FA’s test needs to be refined.
I believe an owner of a football club should have the financial funds to improve a club and most importantly have the best interests for the football club at heart.
However I do think that the top clubs in the Premier League could help the lower clubs.
There should be more filtering down of money from the top clubs to the lower league clubs seeing as the Premier League is the richest league in the world and there is so much money everywhere.
Maybe in the future a Premier League team could adopt a lower league side, there could be legal issues with that, but something along those lines could be the support that every lower league club needs.
You have to take your hat off to the players because the lads haven’t been affected by the entire off field troubles as you could see from our performance against Burton last week which we played very well and secured the three points.
We need to keep as many players as possible, but I would be very surprised if we kept all of our players because the club needs money, but it has also spurred on the youth players who have realised this could be the chance to make their mark in the first team.
Things are looking better for the club. If I was asked last week of my personal opinion on the future of Port Vale I would have said I was deeply worried.
Now, however, I am more optimistic. The administrators have agreed to take control, the players will be getting paid and it does look like we will avoid relegation despite the points deduction.
Hopefully we can pull through this difficult time and get a new owner, which will allow us to re-focus on taking the club back up the football league next season.
Category: In focus