Having had a slight dig at Grimsby, a few weeks ago, we must now consider the undisputed Kings of Doping, Forest Green Rovers.
The club is a shining example of sustainability in football. Vegetarian food, solar powered watering systems and electric cars power the Rovers image of all things green and good.
There is just one area where the sustainable cloak falls short: Finance.
The club currently has liabilities of £4m and a turnover in the region of 800k. The debts are going up and the income is actually going down – by £200k in the last two years.
Turnover – £864,476
Wages – £1,500,664
Yes, that’s right. They are spending at around 200% of income on wages.
The club are owned by Ecotricity who are in turn owned by Mr Dale Vince, a former New Age traveler turned renewable energy tycoon who now seems to be ever-present on the radio where he spouts his pious solar powered drivel for our benefit.
It is possible that Vince could explain away the spending on FGR as necessary to raise the profile of the parent company. Certainly we had not heard of Mr Vince or Ecotricity before their involvement in FGR. With the club rebranded to Ecotricity’s corporate colours – including Cardiff City-esque changes to the badge and the kit, it’s certainly a good marketing vehicle. Especially when you can drip feed PR stunts to a pliant football media always willing to take a funny non-league story and ask no questions.
The views of supporters over this rebranding were of course treated with contempt. As they have been with every unpopular change Vince has foisted upon the club – from the contents of the pasties to the manager. But I digress.
Throughout his four year involvement with the Gloucestershire club Mr Vince has not been able to come anywhere near making them sustainable.
Big wages on average players have kept expenditure high.
Unfortunately their income has not matched this outlay. And nor will it. The club is based in Nailsworth which is roughly the size of Ruthin. Nearby Stroud, the only populous town in the area, is still smaller than Buckley. They do really well to get a crowd over 1,000 in an area that is dominated by fans of the two Bristol clubs.
At Wrexham we remember their poaching of Danny Wright. It is ridiculous that a team from a town the size of Ruthin can outbid a club like ours to sign a decent player. That’s the way it is in football these days. Crawley, Eastleigh, Fleetwood, Forest Green are all pumped up entities feeding the ego of tinpot-Abramoviches for as long as the club can keep them entertained.
Anyway, having got that off our chest lets return to the Shire.
The problem for Mr Vince remains how to get his money out of the club and also stem the £1m losses. And here is his answer – relocation.
The club owners have their eyes on a site that is currently earmarked for an incinerator. That proposal is still to be decided on by Eric Pickles but if he gives it the thumbs down then Vince is ready to move FGR away from the New Lawn.
Unfortunately, the new proposed site is not in Nailsworth, it is in Gloucester .
Of course, Gloucester already has a team. Gloucester City currently play in Cheltenham but are hoping to return to Glaaarster in the near future.
Quite how Vince’s ambitions will make that possible remains to be seen. With a hugely popular rugby club in situ their probably isn’t room for two footie clubs.
Perhaps the best solution would be to allow the megalomaniac to buy Gloucester City and allow FGR to continue to serve the small Cotswold town that has been its home for the last 125 years.
Who would pay off this guy though ?
As we type this FGR have just been deducted 3 points for playing an unregistered player and are once again struggling to make a decent challenge for promotion. Not only that, but they were recently ordered to pay out a six figure sum after being judged to have unfairly dismissed Andy Mangan six months into a three-year contract.
How long their ambitious owner will persevere with manager Ade Pennock is a cause for much discussion.