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Morecambe fans urged to ‘support the club to sustain income’

The Shrimps Trust has urged Morecambe supporters to do their bit to help with the club’s finances as the ownership saga at the Mazuma Stadium rumbles on.

Last week’s well attended meeting, convened by Morecambe’s official supporters organisation, gave disgruntled fans the opportunity to vent their frustrations at the ongoing stalemate between current owners, Bond Group Investments, prospective buyer, Sarb Capital, and the English Football League, who have yet to ratify the takeover deal, months after it was first mooted.

The overriding message to supporters is clear – now is the time to spend your money with the club.

During the meeting, the Trust allayed fears that incoming revenue would stay within the club, and couldn’t be withdrawn by the current owners without the consent of the board of directors.

And, after a lengthy statement for the club last week confirmed the Shrimps were currently operating with a ‘break even’ budget, and with other revenue streams such as gate receipts not being available during the close season, fans are now urged to put funds into the club, if they possibly can, by either purchasing a season ticket, or by attending the Stars of the West End concerts at the Mazuma this weekend (May 26/27).

In a statement issued after the meeting, the Trust said: ‘’A huge thank you to everyone who was able to come to or watch our open meeting on Thursday night.

‘’We were pleased to be able to get across some important information and messages following recent events at the club. Ideas were also put forward regarding our next steps, which we are currently deliberating and will update in due course.

‘’In the meantime, one of the key things that came from the meeting was that we need to continue to support the club in order to sustain income. At the moment, there are a couple of big ways this can be done.

‘’Firstly, there is purchasing a season ticket, and there is the upcoming summer concerts at the Mazuma.’’

The stark reality of the club’s current financial situation, and circumstances, was laid bare in a lengthy statement released last week.

In it, the board said the "state of uncertainty" over the sale of the Shrimps - who were recently relegated to League Two - was hampering efforts to plan for next season.

Although the Shrimps made a profit of £1.3m in 2021/22 (the Shrimps' first season in League One), they revealed that the club would post a loss of around £800,000 for the 2022/23 season.

During the period between June 2020 and May 2022, it’s been revealed that the club repaid almost £2.5m in loans to Bond Group Investments, at their request.

It’s these loan repayments that mean that although the club is almost debt free, it also means that the club were left with only a small amount of working capital for the season just ended.

Furthermore, the inability to offload squad players on two-year contracts, and not having those same ‘one off’ revenue streams of the season before, has all contributed to the significant operating losses incurred last season.

The club’s financial situation comes against the backdrop of the long and protracted sale process, which has dogged the club for many months.

Morecambe Football Club was put up for sale in September 2022 by Bond Group, which is owned by Jason Whittingham.

Bond Group's preferred bidder is 20-year-old entrepreneur, Sarbjot Johal, who has been in protracted negotiations hoping to complete a proposed takeover with his company Sarb Capital Ltd.

The English Football League (EFL) has to approve any prospective new owner of any club. To date, Mr Johal has been unable to complete the takeover.

Mr Johal’s company has also invested funds into the club twice in recent weeks, after player and staff wages were delayed in March, and then again last month, when the Shrimps announced Sarb Capital had made a ‘further significant contribution’ into the club.

Back in February, the EFL released a statement, confirming that the situation with Mr Johal remained ongoing, and further information was required to be provided to them before any approval could be given regarding any purchase of the Shrimps.

At the end of the season, the club announced that fourteen out of contract players would leave the Mazuma Stadium, with no new deals offered to any player. A position, the board say, is as a result of the ongoing budget constraints.

The Shrimps Trust is the official Morecambe supporter’s organisation, set up by a group of fans in 2016, with a vision being the voice of the fan base, and helping, maintaining and supporting the presence of the club in the town of Morecambe, and strengthening the bonds between the club, the fans and the communities it serves.

Earlier this month, they issued an open letter to Sarbjot Johal, urging him to ‘accelerate’ the process or ‘terminate the takeover’.

You can join the Shrimps Trust here

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