14 October 2012

Five days to take the first steps towards saving Truro City

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It went to the wire and it would be a stretch to say that the club has been saved yet, but Truro City of the Blue Square Bet South were at least given a stay of execution at the end of last week when the Football Conference allowed the club a further seven days in order to find a £50,000 bond in order to ensure its membership of the league. The club had been threatened with expulsion from the league – a scenario which surely would have led to its liquidation – had it not been able to pay this bond by the leagues deadline of 5pm on Thursday afternoon, but confusion subsequently reigned with contradictory messages from different sources suggesting that the club either had or hadn’t paid this money to the league.


Eventually, after an emergency meeting, the league confirmed that an extension had been granted, but the warning from the league was a stark as could be with an official statement saying that, “If the club fails to meet this deadline, the Board will be obliged to consider the club’s further participation in the Competition.” An opportunity to raise a little money passed Truro City by yesterday because its home league match against Dover Athletic had been postponed last week in order, according to the leagues statement on that particular subject on Thursday evening, “To avoid the visiting club from incurring any unnecessary expense, and consuming much time.”

This is a reasonable rationale, considering that it is a seven hundred mile round journey from Dover to Truro, but it came too late for Dovers chairman Jim Parmenter, who subsequently stated that the match had been called off too late for his club to avoid having to pay the majority of its costs for the cancelled trip.

“It’s our longest trip and we’re going to have to meet the cost of most of it”, said Parmenter, who added that the cost of this cancellation for his club was likely to be in the region of £4,000 – not an amount of money that many non-league clubs below the Blue Square Bet Premier can afford to simply throw away – and it is this which shines a little light on the reason why matches are called off in this sort of situation, although critics might argue that comments from Parmenter that, “It’s a mystery how it’s allowed to happen, it’s sad for clubs like us, who are sound and do things right, we are the ones that suffer” are hardly helpful and, it might even be argued, perhaps a little hypocritical when we consider the manner in which he departed Margate FC for Woking in 2004, leaving that club in a bad state which almost cost it its existence.

Why, though, should other clubs in the same division – and there are few in this league that don’t ultimately live a hand-to-mouth existence – face costs and uncertainty over whether their matches are to go ahead just because one of their number (by coincidence the most geographically remote in the league) can’t get its financial act together? Having said that, however, it might be counter-argued that postponing the match less than forty-right hours before it was due to be played was counter-productive if it ended up costing Dover Athletic a considerable amount of money whilst preventing Truro City from staging a potentially lucrative (especially considering the amount of publicity that the clubs condition has been receiving over the last few days or so) home league match. Nobodys best interests seem to have been best served by postponing this match at the time that it was.

The supporters of Truro City – and there doesn’t seem to be anybody else in a position to do this at the moment – have been left with a daunting but still achievable task- raise the £50,000 bond by next Friday or face the Football Conference considering “the club’s further participation in the Competition”, with all the thinly-veiled menace that such a statement implies. Eastleigh FC, who are due to be playing Truro City in the league next Saturday, have already confirmed that they will give their gate receipts from this match the their ailing rivals. In addition to this, there is also an attempt at fund-raising currently going on from a group of Rangers supporters with the hope of getting some way towards raising the amount of money which may at least give the club half a chance of survival.

All of this, however, remains little more than fire-fighting in comparison with the bigger issues facing the club. The two biggest questions that must be answered if the medium-to-long term future of Truro City is to be secured are that of who is going to buy this club from administration, and what the clubs future at Treyew Road could be following its somewhat controversial sale to a mysterious company called JoJo Investco during the summer. As things stand, precious few seem to even know whether the club has any chance of securing anything more than short-term lease on its home, and without greater security of tenure it seems unlikely that anybody with the means to buy Truro City out of its current mess is going to want to put money into it.

Furthermore, the necessity to raise this amount of money comes on top of the costs required to run the club under its current administration. The club was served with a winding-up petition by HM Revenue and Customs in September last year over an unpaid tax bill and subsequently faced a debt claim of £700,000, the majority of which came a company from Tiger Commercial (Truro) Ltd, which had been involved in the commercial running of the club during happier days, and this needs to be addressed in full if the club is to retain its position in the Football Conference beyond the end of this season or in part if it is to accept demotion at the end of this season as being an inevitability.

Raising £50,000 in seven days is one thing, but even doing this successfully could be considered addressing only the most immediate of a number of increasingly insurmountable looking obstacles that the club will have to circumnavigate if this story is ever to be concluded happily, and that’s the scale of the challenge ahead of all those that are now seeking to save Truro City Football Club.

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