RAITH Rovers are praying fans can help the team survive the season – both on and off the pitch – by turning up to home games in greater numbers.
The Kirkcaldy club is walking a tight-rope on two fronts as the team battles to stay in the First Division while directors fight to balance the books.
With crowds currently down 30 per cent on last season, Raith insist they could stand to lose as much as £250,000 on last season’s gate receipts if that trend continues.
With the club in desperate financial trouble, and the team requiring all the support it can get in the battle to avoid the drop, club director Turnbull Hutton admitted that Raith will rely on their supporters more than ever to see it through both challenges.
“From where we were at the open meeting in September, to now, it’s hugely worse,” Hutton told SportsPress. “Crowds are down even further than our revised estimates.
“The money we’ve made from selling shares and supporters’ initiatives have all been great, and we’ve still got the Hall of Fame night to come and other on-going events planned.
“But at that open meeting, the only thing the board asked for was for more fans to turn up to games – and so far that hasn’t happened.
“We’re constantly told we’re too expensive, but we simply cannot make it work charging any less at the turnstile. We tried to reduce prices for home games before Christmas and it didn’t work – we didn’t get the return.
“Frankly, we’ve no idea how to get out of this situation. We’ve kept the club afloat by putting our hands in our pockets and it can’t go on – we’re spent out.
“All we can do is batten down the hatches and hope fans rally round the team, and the club, by coming to as many games as possible between now and the end of the season.”
Hutton stressed that despite the cashflow concerns, players have always been paid on time, with directors personally footing the bill on occasions.
He explained: “The club has no overdraft facility with the bank, so in order to make payments and keep the wolves from the door we have to rely purely on income. So when we have don’t have a home game, there’s no cash coming in, but we’ve still got payment demands to be met.
“The only way to do that is to loan money in, but as there’s no additional income to let you get your money back you end up converting them into shares that are worth nothing.
“The worst thing we could do is not have enough money to pay the players, but we’ve always made sure there’s enough.
“This is a bad year in terms of crowds, the recession, and everything else. Next year could be better – but getting to next year is the problem.”
With manager John McGlynn and more than half of the current first team squad out of contract at the end of the season, there is a lot of uncertainty over what the future holds.
Hutton explained: “The manager, as well as several players, are out of contract at the end of season but until we know what division we’ll be playing in, what our finances will look like, and what league reconstruction there might be, we can’t move on any of them.
“There are a handful of players on two-year deals but not enough to form the nucleus of a team, we’d like another two or three from the current team signed on top of them.
“We wouldn’t like to lose the manager, or a great servant like Iain Davidson, but we can’t make a move on them, or any of our key players, given where we are right now.
“It’s an uncertain time for everyone so we could really do with fans coming out to give the team a boost in the battle against relegation.”