Major sponsor pulls out

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AFC Sudbury director Richard Instance has assured fans the club’s financial future is not hanging in the balance after losing their major sponsor.

Sudbury-based aviation business The MEL Group was praised for its long-standing relationship with the club, going back to the town’s two clubs amalgamating to create AFC in 1999 and since 1977 with Sudbury Wanderers.

But Instance said the withdrawal of their backing across the club — which included the youth teams and the stadium naming rights since 2010, after their latest contract finished — will not put the club’s future in doubt.

“No it is not,” he said, revealing there is already other interest and several other options set to be being considered, including a new share issue to supporters. “Unfortunately all good things come to an end.

“We are sorry to see them go as I would not think there is not another football club in the country that can say they have had support like that for 37 years.

“They have been fantastic for the club and Gary (Harvey, co-owner) has been involved as a player, manager and director here and has been unbelievable.”

He added: “We have already been approached by two other companies who have expressed an interest.

“But we are not rushing out in a panic, we are looking for the right type of sponsor.”

Manager David Batch already has a list of targets he is approaching to build on a promising first season in charge, and Instance said his budget will not be altered.

Ahead of a regular board meeting tomorrow night, he said: “The playing budget for this season has been agreed and that will be unaffected.”

A shareholders’ Annual General Meeting will be called in July to discuss a number of options.

This will include the issue of new shares and taking on a new chairman, after Phil Turner was not replaced after stepping down in August.

Instance has said they will be considering offering up the stadium name to a new sponsor, with The MEL Group Stadium set to revert back to King’s Marsh again if not.

“We will be looking at that as well,” he said.

Instance was due to meet a new sponsor yesterday.

No-one was available for comment from the MEL Group at the time of going to press.

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