Manager Lee Bradbury has left Eastbourne Borough with the club needing to close a £40,000 shortfall in the next month.
On a seismic day at Priory Lane – a place not known for drama or sudden surprises – the club has today announced a financial appeal and a major re-structuring both on and off the field.
The Sports boss has been released on what club officials describe as “entirely amicable terms”. The directors and football committee would like to place on record their thanks to Lee for all that he has done in his short time at the club and also for his professionalism at this difficult time for the club.
Bradbury said: “I would like to start by thanking everyone associated with Eastbourne Borough football club for the way they have treated me since day one of me joining this fantastic community club.
“I would like to put on record that I am disappointed that things didn’t come to fruition but the clarity the club have shown me over recent weeks has been great and I really hope the club finds the investor it needs to get out of financial trouble and become successful as it has so much potential.
“I part company with a heavy heart but also know it’s best for both parties.”
At the same time, the football club has launched an open invitation to existing supporters and sponsors, and potential new backers, to “Bridge the Borough Gap” – a short-term deficit which has threatened Borough’s week-to-week finances ever since the loss, just before the new season opened in August, of a major backer who had been expected to invest a significant sum in the club and its infrastructure.
Club officials – in a hard-hitting statement – have thrown open an appeal to close a £40,000 shortfall in the next month. Finances have also been hit by a relatively early FA Cup exit, as well as surviving the whole month of October without a single home game.
Although Bradbury’s squad have pulled up no trees, sitting below half-way in National South, the club insist there are no complaints on Bradbury’s management or commitment. But the Portsmouth-based manager, who arrived in the summer, has agreed a settlement which cancels his contract – and saves at least one salary.
CIC Chairman David Blackmore and Football Chairman John Bonar will personally speak with the playing squad on Tuesday evening (22nd) ahead of the team’s home friendly against a London-based Academy side. At this point there is no indication of departures on the playing side.
Bradbury’s assistant Shaun Gale will also relinquish first team duties with immediate effect. The club have confirmed that Shaun will continue to lead the community projects that he has started to implement for the club.
Team affairs will be overseen by other coaches within the club, with popular skipper Sergio Torres expected to take on some of the management duties. Meanwhile the Borough will be exploring options for a new manager over the coming days.
Interim Board Chairman, David Blackmore said: “This is the tightest financial situation the club has faced, possibly ever, and certainly since the League’s ill-fated Setanta sponsorship deal a decade ago. We are certain that we enjoy widespread goodwill throughout the town. All we need is for supporters and sponsors to turn that goodwill into tangible support.
“We have a reputation for careful management and steady financial planning. But it is no secret that a major investor withdrew his promised financial support for the club, just a few weeks after Lee and his assistant Shaun Gale were appointed and their budget fixed – at a level designed to compete in the top half of the table. The Board is as ambitious for success as every supporter, and remains so. But the timing could not have been worse. Without the anticipated investment we have battled on, hand to mouth, over the last two or three months. But we are hit with the perfect storm: a budgetary black hole, the FA Cup exit and the lack of any home games in October.”
Blackmore continued: “We are this week making savings to the playing and managerial budgets, but the simple reality is that to keep the core of the current playing squad together, we urgently need to build that bridge through to Christmas. December and January are usually good months for the club’s cash-flow. Let’s all help to gain the breathing space.
“The Directors are working incredibly hard to raise funds for the club and many of them have personally helped the club financially. Priory Lane buzzes with activities. We will always, always give more than we take. We are at your heart, and we have your needs at heart. Remember we were the National League Community Club of the Year in 2018.
“We have some of the best facilities in non-league football. The 3G pitch has helped us to build our youth and community activities and it is more than contributing positively to the finances of the club. We have exciting plans to expand these offerings including a new academy, an elite youth coaching programme and revamped holiday courses, which will all help create much needed income but these things take time to get right.
“So the medium and long term are bright. We have values, we have energy, we have belief. We have an unshakeable commitment to this town. Eastbourne Borough proudly carries the town’s name far and wide. Priory Lane will be a hub of your community for years and decades to come. It is simply the short term that we need to tackle.”
David and football chairman John Bonar, on behalf of the whole Board, plan a Q&A – date to be announced shortly – to answer any questions or concerns from supporters.
“We will be as transparent and open as possible,” said Bonar. “We are football people just like you. Catch us in person or, to sign up for shares or other help great or small, send us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org “