It is very disappointing to report that, despite assurances given to the club by representatives from both Sports England and the National League, we have subsequently been turned down for the Winter Survival loan.
It now feels that those assurances were perhaps only given to ensure we supported the continuation of the National League at Step 1.
For balance, the club has decided to print the loan rejection letter for our supporters to read and for other football clubs to take note as we know that certain clubs at Step 1 and 2 have also been given the same assurances and might think that these Winter Survival loans or grants are in the pipeline, when that may not be the case.
Wood Chairman Danny Hunter said, “The loan rejection letter does state that we run the club correctly, but it’s still disappointing that on a number of levels the letter appears not to understand we are still in a pandemic, that we are still in trouble and if we continue to play without crowds and with a closed facility, like many clubs and their owners, we’ll struggle to operate. As it is, it will take us all many years to repay the existing debts and these Winter Survival loans with their preferential rates and terms were seen as a real help…
“Perhaps they’ve tried letting us down softly by telling us that we are a well-run football club, but to acknowledge in the letter the large amount of monies we’ve lost with no crowds, no astro facility hire, no bar sales and no function hire but then infer that because I’ve deferred my tax, remortgaged my home and already taken out two business interruption loans, that we don’t need their help to get through this season, is to forget the assurances given.
“They must also I feel understand, that I firstly had to take the club off furlough to compete in last season’s play-offs and that was in part to satisfy the League’s commercial interests, which cost me personally over £80k.
“I was then forced to take out loans to start this season because, without any true knowledge if we’d get any financial assistance, I had to get all my ducks in a row early. So, I feel I had no choice as I couldn’t trust the National League, its Chairman or its Chief Executive at the time, to help me and it seems that both myself and the club are now being punished for that.
“As a result, I do feel a bit sorry for myself although I don’t regret the decisions I took last spring and summer to take loans and defer my tax, even in hindsight, as it was the only way to keep my staff, players and my Manager safe. Also, it was only correct that I ensured as many of my staff as possible were paid 100% throughout this pandemic, though in truth that pressure has now had an adverse effect on my health over the last few months…
“I now feel I’ve been misled by the governing bodies and to be told, after we had voted to continue, that my club is not now eligible for these Winter Survival loans with the long-term payment terms and preferential interest rates is a blow, as they are open to most other clubs which I feel is unjust.
“I’ve gone and rechecked things my end with my Finance Director, who has also e-checked things her end with Sport England and its simple… If I hadn’t taken those earlier business interruption loans, if I’d not deferred my tax, if I had repaid my remortgage and if I had decided to work hand to mouth and not created sensible cashflow, I would have got the loan – so for me that’s madness.
“In other words, if I’d put my community football club bang in trouble, if I’d just worried about me and put my staff, my players and my suppliers lives and livelihoods in danger by not doing the right thing then the football club would apparently now be eligible for the winter survival loans on the improved terms which the other National League clubs are now getting.
“So, when we are having to pay off our business interruption loans which begins this June on far worse terms than the other National League clubs are getting, then we are by definition being denied the same sporting chance as every other club in our division, which I don’t feel is fair or has been properly thought through by the National League or Sport England.” Hunter concluded.
OUR CLUB. OUR TOWN. OUR COMMUNITY.