On Friday night, Yeovil Town chairman Scott Priestnall declared that the sale of top-scorer Joe Quigley to Chesterfield for an undisclosed fee had been necessary to balance the Huish Park books.

In a statement, the owner said that the sale had been made to boost the club’s coffers “at a time when our average attendances are much lower than expected“.

Owner Scott Priestnall speaks alongside manager Darren Sarll in July.

Referring to the “much lower than expected” attendances, he claimed speculation around the ownership of the club was “certainly not helping the club cover lost revenues of playing behind closed doors (last season).”

Rewind to the end of July, Priestnall sat alongside manager Darren Sarll and declared that season ticket sales were “ahead of schedule“, adding this his focus was on ensuring his manager had “the resources to be competitive.”

So, after what no-one can question last season was a financial heart attack for all football clubs, let’s take a look at what we know about where money has come in to the club since the summer:

Sport England loans – £801,538

In two loans, the club borrowed £801,538 from Sport England which the club said were “given to clubs due to lost revenue from last season’s lockdown period” – it says ‘given’ but they do expect them back, incidentally.

The statement in August added: “This means that the loan itself is in relation to the costs and creditors from last season, and that is what the loan will be used for.”

In the very same statement, titled ‘Financial Update’, the club confirmed it had settled its debts with the taxman having taken a ‘payment holiday’ with HM Revenue & Customs during lockdown.

So, probably our most important creditor settled up with and a hefty loan to deal with costs and creditors from a season behind-closed-doors.

FA Cup prize fund and television money – £158,004

The third round of the FA Cup ended in defeat which meant no prize money, but the switch to the game on the BBC Red Button brought in an additional £32,000.

The second round FA Cup tie against Stevenage saw Yeovil Town pick up £34,000 in prize money and £60,000 for the game being broadcast live on BBC television.

Darren Sarll’s side progressed through the FA Cup’s fourth qualifying round (£9,375 in prize money) and the first round proper (£22,629) as well.

FA Trophy prize fund – £6,000

The FA Trophy third round win brought in an additional £4,500 and even losing to Needham Market in the fourth round generated £1,500.

Tally up these things and you reach the princely sum of £965,542. Not to be sniffed at.

But, of course, it is attendances that are the problem.  The lack of games at Huish Park with fans in attendance last season don’t give us a great deal of insight, but in the 2019/20 season, which ended in early March, we averaged crowds of 2,951.

It does beg the question why we budgeted for crowds of 3,000, according to a statement from the chairman, when we haven’t actually managed an average gate of above 3,000 since 2016-17 as a League club, but we’ll let that slide.

This season we’ve topped the 2019/20 average on three occasions – W*ymouth in the FA Trophy (3,354), Torquay on January 2 (3,866) and the FA Cup third round with AFC Bournemouth this month (7,818).

There’s been four occasions when crowds have dipped below 2,000 (five if you include Bridgwater in the Somerset Premier Cup), but that still means 41,926 supporters attended 16 matches at Huish Park this season – giving an average crowd of 2,620.

That is on average 331 people fewer than the 2019/20 season when we went out at the first time of asking in the FA Cup – so is that so different? For context, that puts us comfortably in the top half of the National League attendance table.

Last season, we also picked up undisclosed transfer fees for young striker Alfie Lloyd for “an undisclosed fee plus add ons” to QPR in May 2021, and frontman Courtney Duffus for another undisclosed fee in January 2021, and we’ve heard Sarll talk about his pride at the fees that he has picked up for players.

Myles Hippolyte was another who went for an undisclosed fee to Scunthorpe United in the summer of 2020, peak pandemic time – but that was 18 months ago, so we can’t count that.

On the field, the experienced heads of Rhys Murphy, Charlie Lee, Carl Dickinson and Jimmy Smith, who would have been among the top earners, departed our payroll in May, and off-the-field Sarll spoke yesterday about “staff shortages” – not least his lieutenant, Terry Skiverton.

Yes, we brought in Mark Little, another experienced head, but the majority of arrivals were of the youthful variety – hence having the second-youngest squad in the division.

So, with the thick end of £1m either borrowed or made through prize money, attendances dipping 331 below the levels of two years ago, transfer fees already brought in, a wage bill trimmed – and don’t even get me started on supporters’ donating more than £50,000 to a Crowdfunder when the chips were down in the summer of 2020.

After all that, we’re still in a position where we’re having to fire sale players to clubs we should be competing against for promotion, Mr Priestnall?

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