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Club News

Club Answered Questions

25 August 2023

Following a busy summer at the Mazuma Mobile Stadium, we wanted to sit down with key figures at the club to share some answers to questions we have been asked over recent weeks:

What is the latest with club ownership?

Morecambe FC Board of Directors:  At present, the Board of Directors continue to work day-to-day to operate and progress the Club within the parameters agreed with the Owner. This season, as we have previously documented to supporters, we were initially informed we were working to a breakeven budget which would have been an extreme challenge. The Owner, Bond Group, thereafter confirmed a support package would be in place to increase the budget, predominantly on the playing front which had taken the biggest hit in the breakeven drafts. Graham Howse confirmed the uplift is hundreds of thousands of pounds and whilst this still leaves us on one of, if not the lowest, playing budgets in the league, it does demonstrate the level of player wage inflation since we were last in League Two.

The outcome of this is that the Club is still set to lose a significant amount of money this season despite us increasing revenues and profits in the money generating areas of the Club. This agreed shortfall will be funded by the Owner.

The Owner is still working on a sale of the Club, and we will of course update supporters should any significant progress be made on that front, when we are able to. We hope you appreciate the legal sensitivities of us commenting on anything other than the facts we are informed of, which to date is minimal. Graham Howse is constantly engaged with the Owner pushing for updates, with Jason always available to speak even if there’s nothing to report, which remains a constant frustration for all.

Jason Whittingham attended our game on last Tuesday vs Notts County. We had a pre-arranged and regular Board meeting at the Club on Tuesday afternoon, and it made sense for all to remain at the Stadium to watch the match in the evening. Whilst Jason is no longer a director, as Owner, he is more than within his rights to attend in the boardroom.

As was released earlier this week, we have been subject to an agreed decision with the EFL. This relates to the non-payment of wages which was publicised in March 2023. The agreed decision means that should there be a non-payment of players wages again before 30th June 2024, the club will have 3 points deducted from our points total, with the Owner also having to place 125% of the gross monthly wage bill from across the club in a separate account only to be used should there be a non-payment again. Wages have once more been paid on time for August, a little early due to the bank holiday. To confirm this has now been actioned and we have satisfied the EFL with regards to the deposit account. It is also prudent to highlight that as per the above, the Owner has stated his commitment to funding the club over the season in line with the agreed budget.

Why did it take so long to start signing players?

Director of Football Operations, Mick Horton:  Following the end of the 2022/23 campaign and our subsequent relegation, as previously stated, we had to work constructively with the Owner to put together an acceptable budget for our Club. This is not an easy or quick process as we have to ensure that the budgets that are put in place are viable for all parties so we can avoid instances like last season where there was a late payment of wages. Once that budget was agreed, then we could be in a position to bring players in. Due to this process, Derek had to be patient, which we are grateful for, in being able to identify players that would be available within our wage structure and we are delighted with those who Derek and his team have brought in.

What is the process of signing players at Morecambe FC?

Director of Football Operations, Mick Horton: Once a player is identified there are one of two scenarios. Firstly, the player may come in and train to give the Manager and staff a better insight. Following this the decision will be made by either the Manager or player if they want to progress conversations towards signing for the football club. In the other scenario, the Manager may want to sign the player regardless. In order for that to happen the player must pass a medical examination and then agree to the terms of a contract with the football club. Dependant on factors such as international clearance (even including clubs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), registration and relocation. This process can happen same day or in some cases can take a number of days. During this process there are many issues that can arise hence why announcements can take longer than everybody would like.

As with many things in football including ownership, signings and internal operations there will always be a high level of confidentiality for all parties involved. We do endeavour to provide information when we are in a position to do so.

Why don’t we publish trialists?

Director of Football Operations, Mick Horton: Trialists may only be with the club for training purposes (fitness) or may be a player that the Manager or staff are looking to potentially sign. During the trial process, other clubs may be looking at the player or be bringing the player in on trial. As the player, at that point, is not registered to the football club, they are listed as a trialist.

Why did the kit launch take place in July this year?

Chief Executive Officer, Ben Sadler: We were initially asked to hold off on confirming our front of shirt sponsorship by the Owner due to opportunities he had identified. In the end, for one reason or another, these didn’t come to fruition. This left us in a tricky position late on in the summer but Martin Thomas obtained an outstanding deal with Omnia Payroll Services. The knock-on effect of the late agreement is that we were slightly behind where we wanted to be on our timeline of a June late launch. Graham Howse is also pleased that we were also able to engage with Omnia to provide payroll services for the Club, which involved additional meetings to ensure it was in the Club’s best interests. However, despite the challenges faced, we do feel that the launch has been hugely successful, the finished item, including Omnia & Furocity’s logos is excellent – supported by a fantastic sales uptake to date. We also took the time to get the launch right from a media coverage point of view to ensure we had a fantastic launchpad for the new kits.

Why are some fixtures all-ticket when it doesn’t sell out?

Head of Commercial, Martin Thomas: On the few occasions each season that we make our fixtures all-ticket, with no sales on the day, it is guided by away tickets selling out well in advance of the fixture. When this is the case, we very often have away supporters attempt to buy tickets in the home areas which can jeopardise our matchday safety plans. Our ticketing systems/controls are well established now so online sales can be restricted to home supporters only, evidencing previous ticket purchases with us. It is important to note that we always allow MFC Season Ticket holders the chance to buy a number of additional tickets for home supporters they may know, but who don’t usually buy their own tickets through our system.

It is on a matchday, when it is particularly busy, that we are unable to process ticket sales with the same level of controls, and it is likely that a large number of away supporters would attempt to purchase home tickets from the ticket office on matchday if we allowed sales on the day.

We try to amplify the ‘all-ticket’ message as much as possible in the lead up to such fixtures, and we appreciate supporters understanding when this is the case.

Why have straplines been included on signing announcements?

Head of Commercial, Martin Thomas: As part of our ongoing commercial growth, we have tried to find new and unique ways to engage businesses in investing with Morecambe FC. Part of this was to bring Announcement Partners to the club who sponsor individual announcements such as signings. This then contributes to the budget for the football club to tackle our ongoing running costs. Well done to the eagle eyed who spotted the first one CWR Accountants was Graham Howse's company, who is always happy to contribute as far as sponsorship goes - as are Rod Taylor’s businesses, although neither circumstance is a secret.

Reflections on Summer 2023

  • Record Commercial Partnerships for front of shirt, back of shirt, stadium, and stand sponsorships.
  • Hugely successful launch of our 2023/24 Home & Away kits in partnership with The Terrace culminating in record year to date sales.
  • Refurbishment of our club shop that has given more floor space and a new, fresh feel to the retail area in partnership with The Terrace.
  • Launch of new Hospitality Packages for 2023/24 with our award-winning Events, Bars & Catering team.
  • We currently sit with over 2,200 season tickets sold for the 2023/24 season - last time we were in League Two our Season Ticket sales were 600.
  • 14 new players brought into the Club for the League Two season.
  • Match ticket prices have been frozen for the 2023/24 campaign.
  • Two successful open air concerts delivered at the Mazuma Mobile Stadium for the first time ever.

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