Scunthorpe United chairman joined the Iron Bru podcast to look ahead to the forthcoming campaign. He discusses the club’s current financial situation, the newly introduced salary cap, Russ Wilcox, Neil Cox and club captain Jordan Clarke.
Here are the key takeaways from the interview. You can also listen to the full podcast below, or on all good podcast platforms.
On how Coronavirus has impacted the club and the current state of the club’s finances
“We’re okay. We’ve got the same issues that we had at the beginning of the lockdown. We are short by two thirds of our income. It’s not easy. There are a lot of other clubs in similar positions, some are in better positions, some are not. We’re here and we’ll be here and there isn’t a risk at this point in time, as long as the monies that are coming from the EFL come pretty quickly.
No, not at all. We’ve been told what will hopefully come in and there have been a few bits which has been advances of money that we would have in the future. That doesn’t really help us in the long term. It has helped us in the short term, but we’re hoping that over the coming weeks we get the rescue package has been so talked about. As frustrating as it is, we’re okay. The next couple of months are pretty key for us, especially if we can get some crowds back in. We’re almost living week to week at the minute, just waiting for that money to come through.
Our budget is now a third of what it was two years ago. So, you know, we have done a lot of work and we are streamlining the club that we can work within our means. I’m really pleased with the way that my team and the club are working on making sure that we can get through this.”
On selling between six and seven hundred season tickets
“Of course, it’s concerning but I can understand why people aren’t buying season tickets. I think it’s down to finances. I think it’s down to the people who may have lost their jobs or been furloughed. There’s a lot involved in that. A lot of our fans are a little older, and maybe they’re not that keen on coming to matches. The streaming will be a big help. If they buy season tickets, they will get that streaming free.”
On the salary cap
“If you have a breakeven point at your football club and you can afford 5 million budget, you should be able to do that. If you can afford one and a half million, you should be able to do that. I think it’s unfair for a club like ours to have a budget only a million less than Sunderland or a million less than Rotherham or whoever’s in the division at the time.
I think if your club can breakeven, genuinely breakeven and it’s all about monitoring from their point of view, then that’s the way it should be done.
The league voted on a salary cap. We weren’t of the mind that it was a good idea but, in unity, we have agreed with the other clubs so that we can all work together now going forward.
We were in a very good position, because we’d already got a breakeven sustainability model ready for the season. Actually the salary cap was above where we were going to have our wages, so we are actually in a really good position and even though I argued that it should be based on turnover as a salary cap, this benefits clubs like us.
At the minute we’re working towards that salary cap, we’re working well within it. We’ve gone down the route of under 24 players and certainly a younger side. That benefits us within the salary cap because under 21 players do not count in that salary cap.”
On Russ Wilcox turning down the manager’s job
“He’s got Scunthorpe at his heart and he’s a very important part of the team. I said when he came in that whatever happened, if there were any doubts, or we never agreed on him on the finalities of him taking over the team, he would return to the 23s and do the job that I wanted him to do and that’s exactly what happened.
Me and Russ talked about this for quite a while. He had reasons. I have reasons. I have a lot of respect for him and his family, and he will do a fantastic job in supporting this football club as we go forward.
It didn’t really affect our planning. It didn’t really affect anything with regards to our friendlies or what we were doing. I’m happy that we came to the decision when we did and by moving on quickly we’re we’re able to make sure the club’s in a stable position.”
On Appointing Neil Cox as manager
“I hadn’t identified him as a future manager, but I had identified him as a very good person and a good coach.
I think we’re very lucky to have somebody like him at the helm. He will bring qualities that a lot of others (managers) haven’t had. I also think he’ll bring his own identity eventually. It’s going to be difficult because we are going through a difficult time and it’s not easy to stamp your identity on something when when you are limited in what you can do, but I’m sure he will.
I think we were both unanimous in our feelings. We wanted to see attacking football, we wanted to see wingers going down and taking on players, we wanted to see people tackling. All the things we all want to see in a football match. We talked about football for hours and it was so important that we felt we were on the right page.”
On the departure of Lee Turnbull
“He was offered a coaching role and we talked about it, I’ve known Lee a long time and it was really important that we add honest talks. Honest talks do hurt. I’m sad to lose him, but we couldn’t come to the agreement that we wanted to. The recruitment is changing. With the new salary cap coming in and our limited budget you can’t spend 10% of your budget on scouting and recruitment.”
On Jordan Clarke as captain
“We’ve worked very hard on getting Jordan back to fitness. It’s probably a series of career ending injuries. Somebody else would give it up. His character and the way he’s approached this has been immense. He’s very well educated and wants to know a lot more about the game. He’s very good with the lads. He’s also going to be doing a lot of work within the club as well.
He will have access to the boardroom. It’s a bigger role for Jordan. It’s a proper club captain role. He’s going to represent those players and he’s going to represent us and give us a link we didn’t have before. So it’s not just a straight up playing job, but that’s what I want him to do. I’d love him to come in and play and he knows that. I think he’s got a lot more to offer this football club.
I think it would have been so wrong for me not to identify that he’s got a lot more to offer than just being a footballer and that’s why he’s got the job. I trust him implicitly and that’s why we’ve signed him. He’s took a huge pay cut as well. I’m very proud of the way he’s approached this.”
On the stadium and apartment plans
“The apartments were really key to get us the finance to kick-start us on the other stuff, so the apartments are quite key.
We got some other plans which are quite exciting coming through, which hopefully will embed us and financially secure us for a long time and that is what I’m planning at the minute.
With the way the leagues are going and the new salary cap and the way football is going, I think the most important thing is we retain our Football League identity. To do that, you have got to improve your facilities a little bit, you have got to make sure that you invest as much as you can in the football team and that is going to be investment in training facilities.
I think we need to bring the academy, the under-23s and the first team together. It is great having them in the community but we need a facility and that has to be on our agenda now more than ever because under-21 players are playing a huge part in the future of football in the lower divisions.”