‘Work together’ – Port Vale owner on financial challenges for League Two clubs



Carol Shanahan says suspending the season has created a major financial challenge for Port Vale and all clubs in the lower divisions.

The Vale owner says her club is in a better position than most, but all face problems because most of their income comes from matchdays.

She says the club is having to budget carefully and, for example, wouldn’t have installed seats in the unfinished part of the Lorne Street Stand had they not already been ordered.

She said: “It is definitely affecting us because you don’t know where the end point is. Although we have done a lot of planning for our cashflow, and we knew where we were,  the income for a football club comes from a matchday and hospitality. When that is all taken away there is no income.

“This isn’t just an issue for Port Vale, it is an issue for the whole industry.

“We are in a far better position than a lot of football clubs, but we are not in a position where we can last for ever. You couldn’t be because you still have your outgoings.

“So, it is a case of being prudent. We had already bought the seats, had we not already done then we wouldn’t have bought them now. So, things we were going to buy, we have just put on hold and said let’s just wait and see, and just stay prudent.”

The football season has been suspended since March 13 because of the coronavirus crisis. Since then, the Vale owners have turned the club into a community hub, delivering food and care packages to the north of the city and working closely with the city council, schools and charities.

In the meantime, they are considering what measures they can take to protect the club. Some clubs, including some in the Premier League, have furloughed staff. The Vale owner says League Two clubs are keen to work together.

She explained: “One of the good things to have come out of this is the coming together of all the chairs and CEOs.  So I am in a group now and we have had video meetings so that we act together as a league.

“There are very different challenges for the Championship, League One and League Two. But all of us in League Two are in dialogue and we are very keen that we work as a collective and take decisions as a collective. That is what we do.

“But whatever we do will be what the board considers to be in the best interests of Port Vale.

Vale could receive early payments from the Premier League to help clubs while the season is suspended.

The Premier League has voted to release £125m to the EFL and the National League. However, Vale chief executive Colin Garlick has warned that, while the idea could help some clubs with cash flow problems, advancing payments that would normally have been received later in the year isn’t a long-term solution.

In the case of Vale and other League Two clubs, they would normally receive £225,000 from the Premier League in ‘solidarity payments’ in August and again in January 2021.

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