Belfast Telegraph

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Portadown FC outline fight for survival against crippling debt


By Jim Gracey

Former Irish League kingpins Portadown are facing a fight for survival in their reduced Championship circumstances.

The four times league title winners under legendary boss Ronnie McFall are now fighting to clear crippling debts and to cover costs in the lower division since relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership, following a 12-point deduction after being found to have made irregular payments to players.

Last night the club outlined their perilous position to supporters in an open meeting.

Fans were told that on top of historic debts, weekly running costs are amounting to £6,000 a week with gate receipts drastically down from their high riding Premiership days.

But, while asking fans to support fund raising initiatives, the club stopped short of seeking direct personal donations or loans from supporters and the local business community, saying that approach would be 'unethical' in the circumstances until the historical debts can be addressed.

A statement released after the meeting said: "Our weekly wage costs have been reduced by two-thirds compared to last season and a number of the historical debts have been addressed.

"However, when you realise the weekly costs mount to around £6,000 and an average home gate may only leave you with over £350 profit, it is clear we need additional income streams.

"As a club in the Championship but with Premiership-level costs we are facing annual bills such as £22,000 rates and £12,000 apiece for insurance then electric and heating.

"We have plans in place and it was extremely encouraging to hear fans present at the meeting put forward suggestions to help.

"It is an ongoing process and we are in negotiations to find a resolution to the issue of the historical debts. If certain key problems can be solved over the next few weeks then we can move forward.

"This is a community club which has benefited in the past and continues to benefit from individuals from a wide range of areas willing to put in personal money to help Portadown.

"A legacy of that is historical debt which restricts our current options but everyone involved has the best interests of Portadown at heart and talks continue.

"The feedback from the meeting was a great step forward in that direction and we will explore all avenues towards protecting the future of the club.

"No-one is hiding away from the difficulties we face but there is a determination from everyone to move forward."

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