The only certainty in football is its uncertainty.
That old adage certainly applied this week with the news that Eastbourne Borough is facing a financial crisis for the first time in its history.
During my 40 years of covering Langney Sports/Eastbourne Borough those awful words ‘financial crisis’ simply didn’t exist.
This was because the then chairman Len Smith and his committee made it plain to all and sundry that there would never be silly money paid to managers or players. And if the club was fortunate to have an FA Cup run, that was a bonus – not part of the budget.
During the last four decades, I have watched with pride as The Sports put Eastbourne on the map, going from being a little known park side to the top of the non-league pyramid.
Now comes the shocking news that the club needs to raise a rapid £40,000 to put its financial house in order.
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It is all too easy to be ultra-critical of the present board which has obviously been living above its means, spending more money than it could afford in the hope of success that has, so far this season failed to materialise.
But it has had to cope with savage blows which would have been almost impossible to foresee. The loss of a major sponsor was a hammer-blow and that, coupled with a lack of home games in October, would have been enough to set the alarm bells ringing.
The only remaining life-line was an FA Cup run but that hope died suddenly at Dulwich Hamlet.
One would like to think there will be a rapid and generous response in Borough’s hour of need. There must surely be local businesses which would be only too pleased to come to the rescue.
Over the years The Sports has proved to be a wonderful community club which has won many national awards. Their facilities have been the envy of the county and beyond. They have a superb clubhouse and a magnificent artificial pitch.
All this has been achieved by living within the club’s means.
Today’s board has obviously paid good money for a manager and players they relied on to bring them success. The word was that it was a budget destined to take the club into the National League South play-off places.
So far this season, the story has been one of all-too-familiar inconsistency with results nowhere near good enough to reach either the play-off places or to attract the number of spectators through the turnstiles needed to break even.
The fact that the club has had to dispense with the services of the manager is an indication of the plight it is in.
We have to hope that Borough will emerge from this crisis with renewed financial strength but mindful that there are obvious lessons to be learned to avoid this situation happening again in the future.
The biggest is clearcut – do not spend money you haven’t got in the hope of success that fails to be achieved. The consequences of a gamble going wrong are too great.
As Len Smith would say, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.