Pic: Stuart Tree
DARYL McMAHON has confirmed a budget cut has been imposed on him at Ebbsfleet United – but accepts the bookies may be right installing his side as National League South title favourites this time around.
The Fleet – with a playing budget in excess of £1.2m last season – will have to be more prudent but that hasn’t changed the opinion of the odds-compilers.
The Kent club are firm favourites to win the league with every one of the bookmakers to release their prices but they were this time last year as well and couldn’t last the pace.
When the odds were released, Ebbsfleet were 9/4 with Betway, 5/2 with Ladbrokes and as short as 2/1 with Bet Victor to go one better this time.
Manager McMahon says the fact that he has less to spend doesn’t mean the tipsters have got it wrong.
He told The NLP: “The budget cut has come through numerous reasons. Part of it is because of the Stonebridge Road stadium development. The new stand is going up and that’s a big thing for the club.
“I can’t go into exact details about the size of the cut but we’ll still have a competitive team. We have 19 players signed and last year we had a much bigger squad, we used 28 different players and that’s too much.
“We’re favourites and this year I accept that. We have just come off of what was a good season – we had 84 points and were top for most of it apart from the final few weeks, 84 points would have been enough to win it the year before.
“This time a year ago the bookies made us big favourites and I called it silly in the press because we had just come off of a season finishing eighth. Let’s hope they’ve got it right this time.”
Money may be a bit tighter than before but that didn’t stop Fleet flying out to Portugal on Sunday for a week-long training camp.
On the plane are Bradley Bubb, the Oxford City top scorer, York defender Dave Winfield and centre-back Mark Phillips from Braintree.
“We’ve got in the players we wanted to, there may be room for one more but I’m happy with where we are,” the Irishman said.
“The Portugal trip is worthwhile. We train three times a day and after doing it last year, we certainly saw the benefit.”