Ashington AFC says financial support needed to help the Northern Premier League East football club survive
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The club was promoted at the end of last season to the Northern Premier League East, which has meant increased running costs and necessitated expensive infrastructure upgrades to meet the league’s higher standards.
Club chairman Brian Shotton said: “Our mission is clear. We aim to stay at this level, enhance our stadium, and continue the growth of our club, while giving back to those who contribute.
“Any support, big or small, will be genuinely appreciated. Our town boasts a storied footballing history with the Charltons and Milburns, and together we can add another memorable chapter to that legacy and make our goals a reality.”
The club, founded in 1883, had been able to reduce its debt and invest in its facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the financial challenges this period presented.
In 2020 the club set itself a target of getting promoted in five years time, and performances on the pitch improved even quicker than expected, resulting in silverware, an impressive FA Cup run, increasing attendances, and promotion ahead of schedule.
Brian said: “We began planning early in the new year when promotion looked possible, and we set the club ambitious targets.
“While we were over the moon when we secured the historic promotion, the real test had truly begun.
“We found ourselves two years ahead of schedule in terms of on-field success but two years behind in terms of off-field progress, which would have to be accelerated.”
Despite the securing of sponsorship and the club’s previous Build the Budget fundraising scheme, which raised £8,500 last season, the “current economic climate” has made it “challenging” to keep the club’s finances sustainable.
The club says its costs for utilities and insurance alone have increased by 120%.
It has to have a full pitch enclosure and two rotating turnstiles to meet the requirements for the current tier they compete in, and is also in need of energy-saving LED floodlights and improved groundskeeping equipment.
The club can secure funding from the Football Foundation for a proportion of its ground improvements, but says the remaining shortfall is still a substantial sum that is not achievable without extra support.
Longer journeys for away games has also increased the club’s running costs.
Brian said: “While we are immensely grateful for the support we have received from our sponsors, supporters, and donors, the current economic climate has made it challenging for us to reach our financial goals.
“It is disheartening that even with home crowds exceeding 500, sustainability at this level remains elusive without substantial external support.
“We are not alone in that, having seen other clubs in recent years encounter similar issues.
“We can obtain 70% of stadium improvement funding from the Football Foundation, but even that 30% is prohibitive while concurrently operating with the ongoing running costs.”
The club’s fundraising effort is taking place online at crowdfunder.co.uk/p/ashingtonafc.