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FA Cup money has eased Hereford's financial woes

A couple of games make a big difference

icon money17 December ~ Memories of Hereford United's past FA Cup glories are invariably evoked by broadcasters in search of an upset when top-flight clubs are paired with dwellers of a lower division. Martin Foyle's side have enjoyed good fortune in the competition this season, financially as well as through good results. Having already beaten local rivals Shrewsbury Town 3-1 at Edgar Street last month, Monday's 1-1 second round draw at Cheltenham sets up a replay on Tuesday to see which side will earn a televised home tie with Everton.

Aside from the excitement of a good run and the prospect of facing top-flight opposition, the competition has done much to increase optimism surrounding the club's future security.

Before this season's Cup campaign got underway the future was looking bleak for the Bulls. Relegation from the Football League in May after six years away from the Conference was followed by a poor start to the league season and a rapid decline in attendances at Edgar Street, prompting talk of administration from chairman David Keyte.

Ten points from the opening four games was followed by only two wins in 12, in which time the club was placed under a transfer embargo due to their inability to pay off £110,000 to HM Revenue and Customs, while an average league attendance of just over 1,800 is well below the budgeted figure of 2,400. This equated to a loss of over £8,000 per week. Just four years after a solitary season in League One, the prospect of resorting to part-time status appeared real.

Things took a turn for the better when the side's first FA Cup fixture arrived at the end of October. A potentially tricky qualifying tie at FC United of Manchester was passed with a 2-0 away win and rewarded with a home match against Shrewsbury. The ensuing win over their local rivals brought much needed financial assistance: prize money for winning two rounds and a share of the gate receipts were supplemented by being a featured match on the television highlights, bringing the estimated total to just under £40,000.

When they were then paired with Cheltenham and the tie was chosen by ESPN for live broadcast this figure rose a further £67,000 from television rights alone. Such revenue that was not budgeted for has allowed an agreement to be reached with HMRC and the club's transfer embargo was lifted on November 21. With the reduction in income following relegation from League Two estimated at almost £500,000 solely from television money, before youth funding and reduced gate receipts are taken into account, it is clear how much of a difference just a few cup matches can make for sides outside the League.

The luck of the balls has also transformed fortunes on the pitch: the 12-game barren run has given way to a period of only one loss in ten games in all competitions. That came at an in-form Lincoln City, who are also reaping the rewards of a cup run and will host Liverpool if they can get past Mansfield in a replay next week.

Hereford go to Barrow tonight and will feature on live television for the second time in a week. The coverage gained from being on Premier Sports and the accompanying £1,000 fee for being a featured away side pales into insignificance compared to the revenue gained in another competition this season, keeping alive the fantasy that future generations of Bulls fans might see their own Ronnie Radford moment at Edgar Street. Matt Ramsay

On the subject...

Comment on 07-12-2012 12:34:57 by mintness #739180
If they'd thought to trademark the phrases "Ronnie Radford" and "that goal against Newcastle", they'd be rolling in the media dough for as long as the FA Cup continues to be broadcast.
Comment on 07-12-2012 14:03:05 by Lincoln #739202
Lincoln are indeed reaping the rewards. They were similarly having money trouble but have been lucky enough to have a few people invest in them to tide them over. They have had to be creative with assets and set up separate companies owning the ground and the team etc, they have also had to make the youth system that has produced Darren Huckerby, Jack Hobbs, and Scott Loach a self funded entity separate from the club.

The prize money and 5 games played so far have boosted the coffers, especially with one of them being a derby and another one to follow. There will also be the small matter of £38k from ESPN on Wednesday and who knows what if they play Liverpool.

What is disappointing from all this is that I doubt Everton in Hereford's case, or Liverpool in Lincoln's/Mansfield's give two farts about the ESPN money, prize money or gate receipts. So why cannot there not be a way to see more money come down from the top to the bottom? I imagine the amount Man City pay in agents fees could fund a non-league team with no other income. Why does getting the money have to rely on the luck of the draw? I said last Friday that a win on Saturday gets Lincoln a lottery ticket. Could get 3 balls (Harrogate away) 4 balls (Wigan away) or the full 6 (Man Utd away). As it is we are happy with our 5 balls and getting Liverpool at home. To stretch the (shaky) metaphor a bit further, getting a draw at home against Liverpool would be the bonus ball as the money from that could sort the club out for 10 years.

There is of course the small matter of Wednesday, presently we are in a syndicate with Mansfield
Comment on 07-12-2012 16:23:10 by geobra #739255
I'm a non-league club and get drawn against another non-league club, which earns me little money. You're a non-league club. You get drawn against Liverpool and make a killing. I suppose it's fair.....
Comment on 07-12-2012 23:58:48 by Tubby Isaacs #739421
That ESPN build-up on Monday was quite funny. It took about 15 minutes for Cheltenham to be mentioned.

And Ronnie Radford played for Cheltenham too. For 6 years.
Comment on 08-12-2012 07:32:24 by drew_whitworth #739465
In some ways Man City _do_ fund a non-league team - Hyde.
Comment on 08-12-2012 13:48:06 by Velvet Android #739506
Lincoln's point above about the lack of need top clubs have for Cup money, which conversely can be lifeblood for smaller ones, is a good one – after all, it's recently been announced that Man City spent £10.54 million on agents' fees last year, which is £200,000 a WEEK. How much would that do for an average non-league club? Yes, would be nice to see some big clubs, if drawn against a much smaller one in the Cup, hand over their portion of the 'purse' to help spread the largesse a little more evenly throughout the game.
Comment on 08-12-2012 20:04:10 by ingoldale #739563
Which, to be fair Man City have actually done in recent seasons.
Comment on 09-12-2012 00:58:45 by Sean of the Shed #739616
That £200,000 a week is more than Hyde's budget for the whole season.
Comment on 09-12-2012 12:32:43 by studslonigan #739697
Does anyone remember when the FA Cup was just marginally less prestigious than the league title to win ? When clubs were fined for fielding weakened teams in the league in order to save their stars for the FA Cup tie ? Now it just serves as a lottery like charity to get a little cash for the lower league/non league sides. Not that thats a bad thing in itself, but I personally liked things a lot more when the FA Cup meant something.Thats gone for ever now;there's no way it can be restored to what it was (entirely down to the Ratneresque FA)
Football was a basket case by the 80's and needed change; its just a shame that it was completely at the expense of history ,tradition and competitive competition.Well, nothings ever perfect!
Comment on 09-12-2012 16:43:35 by geobra #739769
In those days, among other things, league games were never played in midweeks leading up to cup ties. They would have distracted the team's attention from the IMPORTANT game coming up on Saturday. Always Saturday, too. Furthermore, gates were usually well up on the aveage in the league.

Still, the FA Cup has a long way to go to reach the level of disdain shown towards Coppa Italia. As an example, and only because I was there, Atalanta v Cesena on November 28th was watched by 2146, but other games drew even lower crowds.
Comment on 10-12-2012 10:47:15 by Lincoln #740050
"there's no way it (the FA Cup) can be restored to what it was,"

Make the prize a place in the Champion's league and it would solve any problem at a stroke. Unlikely to happen, but that is all that is needed. All the interest is still there lying dormant, just need it to be something worth getting.

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