Juniors face cash storm

FORMER Hearts player Derek Strickland is hoping cash-strapped Junior clubs have learned a lesson from the problems encountered by Whitburn last season due to the big freeze.

The bad weather has wiped out the entire East Region programme for the second weekend running and, barring a major thaw, clubs are now facing the prospect of having no games again until the New Year.

Due to Christmas Day and New Year's Day falling on a Saturday this year, no fixtures have been scheduled for either of those weekends. That means it could well be January 8, at the earliest, before clubs can start generating much-needed income through the turnstiles.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It's a scenario that brings back bad memories for Strickland, who was unable to prevent Whitburn being relegated from the Super League at the end of last season after a similar winter lay-off put the West Lothian club in a financial mire.

"That's what knackered us," he declared. "The fact there was no money coming in through the gate became a big problem for the club.

"Under the terms of their contracts, the players still had to be paid but, after doing that at first, we had to ask them to take half what they were due. Some were okay with that but some wanted their full wages - and that, in my opinion, is a lesson that clubs have to have learned from what happened last season due to the weather."

Strickland, who left the club in the summer and is still looking for the right job to come along before re-surfacing elsewhere, added: "If I was still in the game, I would be insisting that contracts are changed so as to help clubs in a situation like this.

"How can a club be expected to pay out wages in full when they've not got any gate money coming in and aren't selling any pies at matches? If a club doesn't have games for a while due to the weather, there should be something in contracts that protects them from being put under unnecessary financial pressure. What's more, the players know that, come the end of the season, they are going to be playing two or three games a week and that can be the time when they can make up their money.

"Seriously, if other clubs haven't learned a lesson from what happened at Whitburn last season, then I honestly don't know if they ever will."

Some clubs have already discovered they can't afford the sort of wage bills they once carried.

"These are worrying times for everyone in the Junior game," observed Strickland. "Certain clubs have drastically cut their wage bills and part of the reason for that was the bad weather last winter. The fact of the matter is that big wages aren't out there any more and, if players want to play for Junior clubs, they have to realise it's not their bread and butter.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The money they get from Junior football doesn't pay the mortgage, so there has to be some come and go on their part over contracts."

As he waits to find out who'll be offering him his next one, Strickland admitted he is holding out for the right job to come along but has ruled himself out of the reckoning for the vacant position at Arniston Rangers.

"I'm missing it now but I've not applied for anything. It's a case of sitting tight," he said. "I've been keeping my eye in, having watched my son, Colin, play for Linlithgow as well as two or three other teams.

"I'm hoping something might crop up before the end of the season but it has to be a job that interests me. I know the Arniston position is up for grabs but, it's nothing against them and I would probably have been interested in my younger days, but I don't fancy the travelling etc that would be involved."