Peterhead boss Jim McInally and players offered to go without pay

Peterhead manager Jim McInally and several of his staff and players offered to go without pay completely to help the cash-stricken club.

By Ian MacLean
Monday, 6th April 2020, 8:16 am
Peterhead boss: Jim McInally (pic: Michael Gillen)

Blue Toon chairman Rodger Morrison revealed the offer was made last week during preliminary discussions over possible action to ease the financial pressure on the Balmoor club during the current shutdown.

But the chairman said he immediately turned down their offer.

And staff - both playing and non-playing - have now been placed on furlough following confirmation that those with two jobs, such as part-time footballers, would be eligible for 80 per cent wages for each of them under the Government’s scheme.

Si Ferry has praised Peterhead chairman Rodger Morrison

Mr Morrison said: “At our first meeting all the management staff, led by Jim, said they didn’t want any pay and quite a few of the players were of the same mind. But nobody can go without pay so that really didn’t sit well with me. But it was greatly appreciated.

“To be fair my internal staff all offered the same as well.

“There was a scenario where we didn’t know if some players would be getting paid, but it was announced that you would [still] be getting 80 per cent if you had two jobs.

“Again I thank them very much [for volunteering to go without pay whatsoever] but they have now all been placed on furlough.”

But while expressing his gratitude to his players and staff, the Balmoor supremo admitted he was less impressed with the apparent reluctance of banks to support football clubs, such as Peterhead, in view of their place at the heart of their local communities.

Mr Morrison said: “The Government have been good, coming away with loads of initiatives, but unfortunately besides the furlough football clubs are not getting any kind of funding at this moment in time.

“Even on the furlough you’ve got to find the money yourself to pay the wages and then hopefully get it back some time in the future. It’s looking like June at the moment, so it’s still a struggle.

“We got through the first pay round to pay the 80 per cent but I’m sure we’ll have the same problem finding the cash to pay again come the end of this month.

“Banks I’m annoyed with. They’ve never been supportive of any football club but after the last bailout, of their making, I thought they might have been sympathetic to some football clubs, but no.

“For example we have no loans and only work with a moderate overdraft and what we were looking for was an increase in our overdraft. But it was a straight ‘no’.

“They will have the perfect excuse coming from the Government - most clubs are very, very fortunate if they can break even and it’s a real get-out clause for them. They’re not going to be supporting ‘failing’ businesses.

“There hasn’t been a failure in football for I don’t know how long and I would have thought that at this particular time there could have been some kind of opportunity to assist clubs which are at the heart of the community.

“We do so much for free within the community but, no, it’s not counting at this moment.”

The chairman says the club is looking to launch a fundraising initiative this week to try to generate some much-needed cash, but has ruled out putting season tickets for next season on sale.

He said: “The club is in complete shutdown but the board is working behind the scenes with key staff on conference calls on a daily basis, trying to keep up as much as is practical with an ever-evolving situation.

“You are always looking for other avenue so hopefully we’re going to get something up and running this week as a fundraiser to see if it can help us alleviate the problems.

“We don’t have a big enough fan base compared to some of the bigger clubs, but I think it would be wrong even trying to sell forward the season tickets. You don’t know when the season’s going to be and obviously a lot of people will be nervous, financially, in their own world without offering things to fans.

“We’re fortunate that we’ve got a big corporate side involving the business sector and patrons and I’ve been really encouraged by all their support to continue through the bad times, the likes of Score, Asco, James Jamieson.

“I’ve been really heartened with their encouragement and that they’re still going to keep paying during this crisis. As of yet I haven’t had one person phoning up to cancel anything.”

“We’re putting in long days behind the scenes and a big ‘thank you’ goes to the staff who are assisting in keeping the club alive and being ready for a new season, whenever it should materialise.

“But looking at what’s happening you have to keep everything in perspective.”

The chairman has also come in for praise from player/coach Si Ferry for the manner in which he conducted negotiations over wage reductions with a group which included him, along with bossMcInally, assistant Davie Nicholls and club skipper Scott Brown.

Ferry told the club website: “The chairman was open and honest and you do not always get that from people at the top of clubs.

“He told us what money the club has, what money was no longer coming in and what money was due to go out.”

“Also Ian Grant who was a big backer left earlier in the season and the club is not in the financial position it once was.”

“We went into the discussions knowing that Peterhead would be in difficult times if wages continued to be paid with no income coming in. Members of the management team and some of the players were willing to give up all or some of their wages to protect those who were getting to be stretched the furthest.”

“The chairman wanted to give everyone the majority of what they are due but he did not know if that was possible. To be fair to him he has gone out and made that happen. He has brought in fresh investment at a difficult time for everyone and he deserves credit for that.”