Morecambe FC playing budget less than last season after cut

Jim Bentley welcomes new signing Peter Murphy to Morecambe. Picture: Matt Rushton
Jim Bentley welcomes new signing Peter Murphy to Morecambe. Picture: Matt Rushton

Morecambe Football Club will be spending less money on players this season than they did in the last League 2 campaign.

The cut comes on the back of an eventful campaign that saw the club need to use six goalkeepers as well as the on-going, and thus far unsuccessful, search for a new stadium sponsor to replace the now defunct Globe Construction.

The first casualty was long-time number two goalkeeper Andreas Arestidou, whose release prompted the club to reveal a “reduction in their 2015-2016 playing budget”.

It has now been confirmed that means Jim Bentley will be working to tighter constraints than in 2014-2015 with a move for a new striker also having to be put on hold.

Bentley has already brought five new faces – Adam Dugdale, Aaron Wildig, Lee Molyneux, Tom Barkhuizen and Peter Murphy – but any new permanent signings now look unlikely ahead of the League 2 opener at Hartlepool on August 8.

General manager Mark Dixon said: “We will be spending slightly less on players than we did last year.

“Last season we had exceptional issues that came up with injuries and goalkeepers.

“There’s plenty of elements that go into it building the playing budget though and things that we’ll look to happen.

“One of those is the stadium sponsorship which we felt was going to happen last year and it didn’t.

“It’s a double whammy. One you haven’t brought the money in through the stadium sponsorship and secondly you’ve got injury issues so your playing budget from last year gets shot out of the water very, very quickly.

“We’ve been talking to people about the sponsorship but there’s nothing guaranteed to happen this year yet therefore it can’t be in there.

“Rather than doing too much blue sky thinking we set it where we are and if anything happens to the benefit of it, like a cup run, then you can look at doing other things.

“There’s decisions that have had to be made that nobody enjoys but this is the industry that we’re in.”

The decision to release Arestidou surprised many as the club revealed they were in negotiations with him when their end of season retained list was released.

And with other players having been signed in the meantime Mr Dixon admitted it was a far from ideal situation.

He said: “We were also potentially looking to contract another forward too.

“It’s not just one contract that’s been affected by this.

“Jim identifies players early doors as to who he’d like to bring into the club.

“We then set a benchmark as to what we can afford to pay them as contracted footballers and then we start talking to them.

“You set a budget on what you know but unfortunately there are elements to that that can change and then it’s how you manage that change.

“There is a time with holidays and people being away where it’s not easy and we want to talk to people face-to-face rather than depersonalise it with emails and texts and phone calls because it’s not the way Morecambe Football Club does business.”

Morecambe’s next number two goalkeeper now looks set to be a youngster from a Premier League or Championship Club.

Mr Dixon said: “There’s clubs do it in different ways.

“Most Premier League clubs will have five or six at different age groups and we’ve got to look at what’s available.

“Barry Roche is our number one and that remains the case but if we can give the opportunity to another goalkeeper to come and experience training at a different club then we’ll do that.

“But we don’t just want somebody who is going to come in and benchwarm, he’s got to push Barry as well.

“I think that’s in Jim’s mind. This will happen over the next four weeks. Championship and Premier League clubs wouldn’t look to release people for loan until they’ve looked at them for pre-season.

“We’ve got some great relationships with North West football clubs who understand how Jim and Ken work and the professionalism they put behind it.”