AFC Sudbury and Needham Market will not be accessing Suffolk FA emergency cash – to allow grassroots clubs to benefit
AFC Sudbury and Needham Market, two of the county's biggest non-league clubs, have outlined how they will not be taking advantage of a new emergency grant offered by Suffolk FA to allow others further down the pyramid the chance to use it.
Suffolk FA's chair Phil Lawler explained yesterday how a funding package of more than £84,000 was being offered to their clubs to help them negotiate their way through a shortened 2019/20 season, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
It included £40,000 being made available to clubs in immediate danger of ceasing.
Both Step 4 Isthmian League AFC Sudbury and Step 3 Southern League Needham Market have spoke about big shortcomings in their revenue streams due to the lockdown.
As well as their matchday income being wiped out, no bookings on their 3G pitches have been able to go ahead, requiring urgent measures to address bills to be paid, which Needham calculated at running up to £45,000 in the lost part of the season.
But both appear to now be in a better position as a result of their actions, including players taking wage cuts, and have clarified they wish for teams operating lower down the pyramid to access the county FA's emergency fund.
Co-signed by Sudbury chairman Andrew Long and Needham chairman Keith Nunn, the statement reads: "Suffolk FA announced this week an emergency grant designed to help clubs affiliated to the county FA who are in immediate financial danger as a direct consequence of the effects of COVID-19.
"Needham Market FC and AFC Sudbury both believe that the fund should be used to help those
clubs at the lower end of the football pyramid in Suffolk and therefore will not be taking advantage of this emergency grant.
"The survival of football clubs at all levels in this county remains of paramount importance.
"The offer of help from the County FA is of course very much appreciated."
AFC Sudbury boss Mark Morsley, who used to be the manager and then chairman at Needham Market, was involved in the discussions between the two clubs.
"There are clubs at Step 6, 7 and below that will not be able to afford grass-seed to get their pitch sorted or have out-of-date beer they can't replace and not able to re-open their bars for the income they rely on. They may be owing money to a brewery they can't pay.
"Some of those clubs' futures may be in doubt at the minute and that Suffolk FA money may end up making a world of difference to them.
"When those smaller clubs go and one of my players needs pitch time, where do they play?"
"We all talk about semi-pro and professional football and how important it is but it is important to highlight Step 6, 7 and below and the part that plays in our game."
- Players and staff at AFC Sudbury praised for sacrifice to help club through crisis
- Needham Market launch 10-year development vision
More by this authorRussell Claydon