By Matt Badcock
Nuneaton Borough’s long-term future is in serious jeopardy unless a saviour can be found.
With no chairman or directors, the National League North club is effectively a rudderless shell, being kept going only by manager Nicky Eaden, his assistant Lee Fowler, club secretary Adam Etheridge and general manager Carly Morrey.
Previous chairman Lee Thorn had put the club up for sale at the back end of last season before selling their Liberty Way ground to Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite and resigning his directorship of Boro Leisure Ltd at Companies House.
It was a move that helped pay off the debts and save Boro in the short-term, but under FA and league rules, Smurthwaite can’t have any say in the day-to-day running of the club.
Money from sponsorship and season ticket sales means wages have been paid on time this season but after this month the well is running dry and there are fears over their long-term existence.
As well as having no training ground or training kit, there is no hot water in the showers – leading to complaints from opposition teams – and rainwater is leaking into the club offices.
Although a dispute with the electric company is thought to be close to resolution, the ground is currently being powered by a generator.
When it ran out of diesel before the FA Cup draw with Brackley last Saturday, the team-talk had to be conducted in near darkness.
It’s an insight into how tough the job has been for Eaden and Fowler, who took over in the summer, and had to build a squad from scratch.
Recent arrivals like former Coventry City midfielder Carl Baker have helped steady a young side, but it’s been a tricky start on the pitch.
Ahead of the weekend, Nuneaton had won just once in the league and were sat bottom of the table.
“The club needs help,” Eaden told The NLP. “There is money to pay the wages, but beyond this month who knows? They need a local businessman or whoever to come in and either try to take over the running of the club or put some money in – that’s what is needed.
“There’s no direction at the club. We’re basically going week to week, game to game, and now we can’t look beyond the next month really.
“I know it’s not the first club it’s happened to. People will be looking that we’re at the bottom of the league. We’ve had to build a squad from scratch but that’s a legacy from last season – players not being paid, you lose Ryan Beswick, Ashley Chambers, Danny Nti and everybody else went.
“You’ve got one player on contract so it was bound to take time to get a squad together and make them gel. Most of the other clubs have got a squad and they’re adding four or five, it’s not like you’ve got a top end budget where you can cherry-pick the best.
“We’re doing the best we can and the squad is still evolving – we’ve kind of had to go to a part-time training schedule so we do two to three days a week now. It’s uphill.
“You’re asking the lads to be professional and give their all but you can’t even give them a hot shower, you can’t give them any training kit. There are pub teams who have got that.
“Listen, they get paid a wage for it but it’s hard to keep the lads motivated. It sounds like I’m whining but it’s the realities of where we are.”
Despite the problems – and numerous surprises – Eaden and Fowler haven’t considered walking away.
“The club has been on the slide for a few years now,” Eaden said. “You thought after the summer, obviously Norman bought the stadium, it was going to be financially stable and on the up – but it’s not changed that much.
“I brought all the players in so you don’t just want to walk away – I’ve got a good relationship with all the players. If I thought some of them weren’t pulling their weight then I probably would have walked.
“But they’re putting a shift in, they want to do well for the club, they want to do well for themselves and they want to do well for me and Fowls. So you keep going.”
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