Gloucester City FC: Tigers face drop over cash crisis
GLOUCESTER City will be relegated from Blue Square North and evicted from Whaddon Road unless the Tigers can plug a £40,000 hole in their finances by the end of this month.
Despite being on course to record their best ever finish in the Football Conference, a cash shortage is putting their groundshare agreement with Cheltenham Town at risk.
City currently owe three months of back rent to their landlords and have been warned that if they don't pay up by the end of the month, they will be immediately evicted.
Not only would that leave the club with nowhere to play their remaining two home games of the season, it would also result in their relegation from Blue Square Bet North.
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City have to have a groundshare agreement for next season signed, sealed and delivered to the Football Conference by March 31 in order to keep their place in the league.
Club chairman Nigel Hughes is pleading for new investors to help shore up the club's dwindling revenue streams and keep them in Blue Square Bet North.
After six years in enforced exile, Hughes admitted that the club was beginning to become tired at its exile as gates and other streams of income continue to fall.
In the past club owner Eamonn McGurk has plugged any holes in the club's finances but after ploughing over £1million into the club over 16 years, the well has run dry.
"Without some serious investment we are going to see ourselves in dire straits," Hughes said.
"The club is tired, I am tired and we are continually trying to generate funding in order for us to remain at the level we are at.
"We're at a stage where we are in a fantastic position on the field, but we can't attract investment and potential buyers aren't going to come forward until we have a route home.
"The bottom line is that we have bills to pay and it's a struggle. Currently, based on our projections, we are going to be somewhere in the region of £40,000 down at the end of this season.
"We need investors and we need investors to see us through to the end of this season. Eamonn cannot afford to keep bank-rolling the club as well as look to provide a stadium. We need light at the end of the tunnel."
Hughes has been in contact with Robins chairman Paul Baker and accepts that City's landlords will have no option but to withdraw the groundshare agreement if the money isn't paid.
Baker confirmed yesterday that the Tigers owed around £20,000 for rent, loan wages for winger Bagasan Graham as well as other sums for match day hospitality.
Admitting that he had every sympathy for City's plight, Baker said that the March deadline was unavoidable and eviction would be the only outcome.
"Unless all debts are paid by the end of March Gloucester will not be able to use our stadium to stage their home matches," Baker said.
"Before now they have been the perfect tenants and we have had no other issues with them, but we cannot allow this to continue unless we are paid in full and we can't afford to let it build up any further.
"In an ideal world we would carry on helping Gloucester, but we are running a business and we need the money too.
"I don't want to be in any way responsible for them being relegated or worse but I think survival for them is the most important thing at the moment."
Hughes admitted that Cheltenham have done their best to help the club during their three-year stint at Whaddon Road but admitted that things were now reaching a crucial stage.
"Cheltenham have been wonderfully accommodating with us and have been understanding of our situation," Hughes said.
"But we need something to happen soon. Otherwise the city of Gloucester won't have a football club performing as well as they are now."
If City were evicted from Whaddon Road they would have to find an alternative venue to host their games against Vauxhall Motors on April 6 and Corby Town on April 20.
They would have to find an alternate home with facilities with a National Ground Grading Category B certificate.
Whaddon Road and Forest Green's New Lawn Stadium are the only two grounds in the county that currently have Category B status.