Football club ‘mothballed’ during pandemic

Queen Elizabeth II Stadium, home of Enfield Town FC
Enfield Town FC fans will have to wait until next season to see their team play again at Queen Elizabeth II Stadium

Andrew Warshaw looks at what’s next for Enfield Town FC

With football wiped off the map throughout the country because of the coronavirus pandemic, non-league clubs are suffering more than most – including Enfield Town FC.

Unlike the professional game, many part-time clubs live hand-to-mouth without the benefit of TV money, relying on match-day income to keep them afloat. They have no possibility of playing behind closed doors or relying on bail-out loans to prop them up until the situation improves. Every penny Enfield Town spends has to be accounted for and the suspension of the Isthmian League on the day the club were due to host runaway division leaders Worthing will have a devastating effect on revenue streams in the weeks and months to come – the league has since confirmed that the season is cancelled entirely.

Dark horses for a play-off spot, Andy Leese’s squad had hit a decent run of form, winning 1-0 at Bishop’s Stortford with a resilient display, 72 hours after a fine 1-1 draw at high-flying Folkestone.

Within days of the season being curtailed, Towners chairman Paul Reed posted a message to supporters on the club’s website, painting a grim but realistic picture of the situation by explaining that the club would be closed until further notice and that the players had all been told they could not be paid with no matches to play.

“Our financial situation is exceptionally tight, and even more so now without the anticipated revenue from games,” Paul told supporters. “But we are fully aware of our income and expenditure position, which is very important, and will take whatever actions the board deem necessary to stabilise our position during the enforced break.”

Reed told the Dispatch that the dire consequences of Covid-19 cannot be over-estimated. “It leaves a big hole,” he explained. “We will survive for sure but a club like ours is losing 90-95% of its income.

“With no revenue from gate receipts or bar income we’ve had to effectively mothball the club. Pretty much all of our income that we budgeted for the next few months has now been put on hold.”

Other clubs are in the same boat, of course, and Paul is pessimistic that the season will resume. The professional game could return as soon as May, but football at Enfield Town’s level could well be over, with the club currently in seventh place.

“I cant see it happening, to be frank. I don’t think we’ll play again until August. Whether that means we start in August and finish this season first, or start again afresh, is a decision for the leagues.”

In the meantime, the club would welcome any donations from fans and other members of the public until football resumes.

Make a donation to help support Enfield Town FC during the coronavirus pandemic by transferring funds to ETFC Ltd, Barclays Bank, using sort code 20-45-45 and account number 43222942. Mark any transfer with your name and the word ‘donation’.