WITTON Albion's acting chairman Graham Wood has spoken about financial planning for next season while also urging supporters to get behind the club.

This follows a 'meet the chairman' event at the U Lock It Stadium social club attended by more than 50 fans.

Albion will be playing in the division below next term after being relegated from the Northern Premier League Premier Division and are currently seeking a new manager after the board of directors decided not to extend the contract of long-standing Carl Macauley.

"The reality of grassroots football is that the boards of all clubs struggle to balance their books," said Wood, who intends to continue in the chairman's seat next season.

"We all have a desire for top quality football but must balance this against the economic reality of running a football club.

"Some of our competitors have very wealthy benefactors who subsidise the gap between running costs (stadium and players) and income generated from gate receipts, sponsors, advertising and donations.

"In Witton Albion’s case our gate receipts broadly cover our off-field costs – utilities, rates, etc and also pay referees fees and other direct football related costs other than players’ and management’s wages.

"Our playing budget therefore comes from our other income. Our social club generates a profit which together with sponsorships, advertising, donations, rental income received, and volunteer fund raising gives us our playing budget.

"The playing budget for the season just ended was £4,500 per week which over the season meant that these activities contributed in the region of £180,000 to the football club. This is a remarkable effort, and I would like to thank all those involved for achieving this.

"Our search for a new manager has started and we have had several applications so far. I would encourage anyone who is interested to contact me at wittonalbionfc1887@outlook.com.

"We need to finalise this appointment within the next few weeks to give our new manager the time to assemble a playing squad for next season.

"I am sure one of the first questions we will be asked is “What is the current season’s playing budget going to be?”

"The board are working on this on a daily basis and we are currently exploring new sponsorship and advertising programmes covering both annual and matchday opportunities.

"The social club is planning several fundraising events following on from the success of the recent Dean Saunders’ Sportsman’s Dinner. The next event is a comedy evening on 25th June.

"We are also hoping to re-introduce matchday and match ball sponsorship packages. All avenues are being explored to increase our revenue and we hope to be able to give our new manager a competitive budget for next season."

He added: "The young people of today are vitally important to the future of the club and our initiatives with junior footballers and local schools will continue and we will hopefully see more of them attending on a match day.

"Our average gate last season was 369. The highest in the Northern Premier League Premier Division was 2,126 enjoyed by South Shields.

"The highest average attendance in the league below was for Marine at 1,124 who have won their play-off game to gain promotion and nine clubs enjoyed larger average gates than we achieved last season.

"An increase of 100 in the average gate would generate an increase of at least £500 per week in the playing budget and I would urge all Witton Albion fans to come and support the team next season as this will make a big difference to our ability to compete.

"The board are also working on securing wet weather training facilities to supplement the training facilities we have at the U Lock It stadium.

"This was one of our main problems for the season just ended."

Wood concluded: "Our club is structured so that no one individual controls it and we have well over 400 different shareholders.

"Our annual general meeting is being held on 26th May in the social club. I would encourage any shareholder that can attend does so.

"It is vitally important that the Witton Albion fans get behind our new manager and our new squad of players for the forthcoming season.

"I look forward to welcoming the Witton Albion family back to the U Lock It Stadium in July when we will have the first of our friendlies in preparation for the 2022-2023 season.”