21 Aug 2018 by John Edwards

The path towards full-time football


Director Bill Waterson has issued the following update on how the board of Altrincham Football Club are ready to explore in detail the possibility of going full-time.

Altrincham Football Club have a long and proud tradition as a part-time club, arguably, through our history, the best there has ever been.  However, it is becoming increasingly clear that if we are to achieve the objectives outlined in the Strategic Review, a move to full-time status may be necessary.

Clearly, this will not happen this season – we have a great management team and a hungry squad of players signed up and already underway in the Vanarama National League North. But we are beginning to prepare the groundwork for the next 12 months and are looking to have an informed debate with our fanbase to discuss this fundamental and potentially irreversible change.

If made, the move to full-time football would not be for its own sake or simply for a change in status. It would be undertaken to accelerate the objectives of the five-year plan and as a stepping stone to achieving a place in the Football League. It will therefore happen when the time is right, and when all the necessary prerequisites are in place.

There are several activities to support this move that have already been launched. The first, led by Lawrence Looney, is the overhaul and expansion of our commercial models, which we expect will underpin strong revenue growth and the level of recurring income necessary to support the higher costs associated with full-time football.

It goes without saying that full-time clubs incur far greater running costs than their part-time counterparts, so it is imperative we achieve commercial revenue growth before we can even consider the move.

There is no point making the transition if our revenue streams only enable us to afford players of a lower calibre than we have today.

On the footballing side, Rob Esteva is undertaking a thorough analysis of the impact of going full-time, whether that be 52-week contracts instead of 40, or the level of facilities that would be required. It is likely changes would have to be made off the field as well, such as several of the roles currently filled by volunteers becoming paid positions.

As a consequence, all of us on the board will be engaging in a series of discussions with clubs who have made the transition. We will seek a detailed summary from those who have walked this path before us, and look to benefit from the feedback, and we can capitalise on the geographical diversity of our directors by talking to clubs across the country, ensuring we have the broadest range of opinions and experiences on which to base our decisions.

In summary, we accept and acknowledge that, for our ambitions to be realised, a move to full-time football may be necessary in the coming years.  We, as a responsible board, will not take this decision lightly, nor will we treat it as “a leap in the dark”. We will be as well informed as possible about all the factors that need to be considered, and we will discuss it in advance with our supporters. In addition, we will make certain the commercial transformation that is clearly essential has been completed before reaching any decision, with improved revenue streams as a prerequisite to making the change. 

Our job, as a board, is to move this club forward and prepare the way for us to play at the highest level possible. This exercise is a fundamental part of that strategy.  Our journey has already begun, and the next stage awaits us.  Come and join us on this historic adventure.

Bill Waterson


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