FC Halifax Town may ‘only break even financially’ with Wembley trip

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FC Halifax Town chairman David Bosomworth admits the shifting of this year’s FA Trophy final means the club may only break even financially on the Wembley trip.

The Shaymen, relegated from the National League last Saturday, face Grimsby Town at the national stadium on Sunday May 22.

Around 35,000 tickets have been sold for a non-League showpiece double-header that also includes the FA Vase final between Hereford and Morpeth Town.

Unlike opponents Grimsby who are in play-offs action tomorrow night versus Braintree Town and then again on Sunday, Halifax are in the unusual position of having no game for more than three weeks ahead of their first visit to Wembley.

In terms of player preparation, it is hardly ideal, but a gap that is down to the Trophy final being put back from March to late May also has huge ramifications for the Yorkshire club’s finances.

As a part-time club, Halifax’s commitment to paying the players ended after the final game of the season last Saturday at home to Macclesfield.

Now, however, Halifax must find the money to cover an extra three weeks of remunerating the entire squad – a substantial five-figure sum.

Throw in the cost of travel to London plus a two-night stay for the players and the Shaymen are facing a hefty financial outlay for the club’s big day.

“Right now, things are raw because of relegation,” said Bosomworth. “But getting to Wembley is still a big achievement and we do want FC Halifax Town to do itself justice on what will be a great day out.

“The big problem for a club like ourselves comes from the final now being late in May rather than March. A full-time club pays 52 weeks of wages but, in our case, we stopped paying our players after Saturday’s final day of the league season.

“Now, though, those contracts automatically extend until the final game, just like they did when we were in the play-offs (in 2014).

“It means everyone is still under contract and eligible to play (at Wembley).

“What it also means is we have to continue, in whatever guise, to cover the cost. It is quite an expensive commitment.

“Obviously, we are delighted for the town and the fans that we have a trip to Wembley to look forward to. It will be magical.

“But what we also have to face as a club is that getting to Wembley will be, in financial terms, nothing like getting to the FA Cup first or second round. That is where the money is, such as when we drew Bradford City (in 2014).

“The FA Trophy final won’t be anything like that. If I am honest, we would probably expect to break even on Wembley when everything is factored in.”

FC Halifax have sold a little over 8,000 tickets for the Wembley final and will, along with the other three finalists, receive a percentage of the gate receipts.

Just how much this will amount to, however, is hard to ascertain due to the hugely competitive pricing that sees adult tickets start at £12.50 and £1 for juniors.

Prize money of £50,000 for the Trophy winners and half that amount for the runners-up is up for grabs, while the Shaymen are benefiting from increased merchandising with sales of the new 2016-17 shirt – which will be worn at Wembley – having already exceeded this term’s.

The flipside is the increased wage bill with an illustration of how Halifax are having to juggle finances being how the club is still weighing up whether to kit the squad out in new suits. The outlay is around £3,000-£4,000, which is why a sponsor is being sought.

“My view is these lads may never get this chance again,” said Bosomworth when asked about the club’s thinking over Wembley.

“FC Halifax Town might not, either, so we want to make it special.”

Bosomworth admits to having felt “very, very low” on Saturday night after relegation had been confirmed. By yesterday’s meeting with The Yorkshire Post at Rudding Park, however, it was Halifax’s animated chairman was ready for the challenge of winning an instant return to the fifth tier.

“Relegation hurts,” said Bosomworth. “But sport is sport. Look at what Burnley did this week; we have to strive to do the same.

“We need players who have the heart. Ability is one thing but you have to have the heart and be up for the fight. If you are away from home on a Tuesday night, you need the players with the right mentality, and to not be thinking, ‘I don’t want to be here’.

“All the players have to be here for the right reason – and proud to pull on the blue shirt of Halifax.”