March 8 2014 Latest news:
Monday, January 13, 2014
Supporters of a football club suffering financial problems have said they are confident it is in good hands and called on the town to do more to back their local team.
Last week the EADT and Bury Mercury launched the Backing Bury Town campaign in an attempt to boost attendances at Ram Meadow after the club revealed it was in financial difficulty.
A dramatic drop in fans attending games has been the main cause of the club’s cashflow problems, but supporters are unanimous in backing chairman Russell Ward and others running things behind the scenes.
Among the club’s more remarkable supporters is Dave Longman, who drives two hours to every home match from his house in Welwyn Garden City.
Mr Longman, who grew up in Bury, said: “What we need to do to get round it (the financial problems) has already been done. It’s no disaster, but it’s a bit of a warning. We’ve been through worse things.
“It’s one of those things where we’re looking okay at the moment, but if we get a few injuries, that could cause difficulties. We’re in a reasonable position.
“Attendances are going down all over the country. I don’t think there’s any real thing driving it apart from things outside the club.”
The club’s fanbase peaked during their championship-winning season of 2009/10 with an average gate of 530, which has dropped to around 320 for the current campaign.
Saturday’s attendance of 327 was the sixth-highest the club has had this season. The club’s two highest attendances of the year came in August, with a dramatic drop-off seeing only 126 turn out for a Ryman League Cup match against AFC Sudbury in October.
However, there have been recent signs of recovery, with their previous home game against Hornchurch also attracting a decent crowd of 367.
Bernard Turner has manned the turnstiles at the club for 17 seasons, but could not pinpoint a reason behind the drop in fans coming through the gate.
“Last year we were getting reasonable crowds, and for some reason they’ve dropped right off,” he said.
“I really can’t put my finger on it. If we’d had some bad results I’d understand it, but we’re getting decent results.”
Alan Wainwright has been a regular at Ram Meadow for 13 years, and remembers the club’s days in the Jewson League when 100 supporters was seen as a good turnout.
He said: “I think there’s always been a disconnect from the town. If you ask people about the local team, they’ll talk about Ipswich.
“We’ve had people come here from other clubs. They ask people for directions, and nobody knows where it is.”
Mr Wainwright also pointed to the collapse of plans to move to a new ground in Moreton Hall, which fell through in September.
“I’ve been reading for about the past two years that the ground was going to be moved and redeveloped,” he said.
“I don’t know what all the hold up has been, whether the council won’t play ball with them. I think that falling through knocked the stuffing out of things.”