Forfar bidding to weather the storm!

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BALANCING the books isn’t easy for any football club these days - and the number of Saturdays lost during the course of the last two winters haven’t helped Forfar Athletic’s cause one little bit.

At the club’s annual general meeting, held at Station Park last Thursday evening, those in attendance learned that the club made an operating loss of just under £36,000 on a turn-over of £261,417 for the year ending May 31, 2010.

Club chairman Neill Wilson remarked that the latest loss gave board members cause for concern, adding that, in the coming weeks and months, further cost savings and revenue income were priorities.

And, with Saturday’s planned trip to Livingston called off at the eleventh hour when the Almondvale surface failed a delayed pitch inspection after yet another night of frost, that means that the Loons have completed a mere 13 of their 36-match league programme.

And that means if Dick Campbell’s men were to go on a run and win their outstanding matches they would leap-frog the teams ahead of them into top spot in the division.

As things stand they are five points adrift of a promotion play-off spot but have no fewer than six matches in hand over fourth-placed Alloa Athletic.

At the time of going to press on Tuesday (yesterday) the signs of a return to competitive action at Dumbarton that same evening looked good, and while Station Park is still struggling to recover from the ravages of the long, cold spell there were hopes that the surface could be deemed playable for the first time since November 6 to allow a first home match of 2011 to go ahead this coming Saturday, with Airdrie United as visitors.

Also pencilled in is a re-arranged home match against East Fife on Tuesday evening of next week.

Back to last week’s a.g.m. and Mr Wilson reflected on last season, which saw Forfar Athletic achieve the aim of a promotion play-off spot, and indeed go on to defeat near-neighbours Arbroath in a two-legged final to make the step back into the Scottish second division.

“The second leg of the final brought a crowd of over 2,000 to Station Park and everyone associated with the club enjoyed the occasion,” explained Mr Wilson.

“Indeed, it gave rise to the thought that perhaps some form of summer football is worth considering.”

“I must congratulate the management team of Dick and Ian Campbell and John Young in achieving their aim of getting promotion.

“Congratulations are also due again to groundsman Martin Gray for taking the runners-up award for the best playing surface in division three during season 2009-2010, only losing out to the national stadium.

“As in previous years fund-raising continues unabated, with the regulars of the lottery, the sportsman’s dinner, ladies dinner, concerts, golf day, hoardings, Telecom mast, match sponsorship, match-day hospitality, refreshment kiosk, Loons Direct and supporters’ club events all doing their bit.

“However, any assistance on the fund-raising front, or indeed any new ideas would be welcomed.”

Despite the fact the finances remain extremely tight - with the loss of Saturday match-day hospitality due to postponements a particular blow - the club has, with the assistance of grant aid, been able to carry out a range of remedial work at the ground.

“Repair work has been carried out to the west terrace wall and new toilets have been added to the east terrace and to the rear of the stand, all with the assistance of grants from the Scottish Football Partnership,” continued the chairman.

He concluded by, once again, thanking his fellow directors for their hard work during the course of each season and also the small army of volunteers who give their time to ensure everything runs smoothly on match days.

“Obviously, posting another trading loss gives us some cause for concern, but supporters can rest assured that the club finances are always top of our agenda.

“However, football can be so unpredictable, and our cause has not been helped by the severe weather this winter.

“It is difficult trying to second guess where we will be at the end of the current season, given that we have over twenty league games yet to play.

“However, we are exploring every avenue at the moment in the bid to keep things ticking over at a time when, despite few games being played, we still have to meet costs such as players’ wages and the expense of securing facilities for them to train.”

The hope is that the weather will relent in the weeks ahead, allowing the club to eat into their back-log of fixtures, and, with positive results, remain firmly in contention for a second promotion play-off slot in succession.