National League side Dover Athletic have said they are likely to become insolvent by the end of the month without further investment or an alternative solution, becoming the first professional club to warn of collapse because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The chairman, Jim Parmenter, has made the entire squad available on free transfers in an attempt to cut costs, after he claimed the players refused a temporary pay cut of 20%.
“The board have been busy assessing the club’s financial position and immediate future due to the very difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Parmenter wrote in an open letter to supporters. “The club is still unsure of its income in the coming season but the board are clear income will be greatly reduced.
“The club has 14 players under contract for next season and at a meeting last week the club’s position was explained in detail to the players and staff.
“At that meeting the players and staff were asked to accept a 20% short-term reduction in salary to assist the club in its efforts to stay solvent and keep the club alive bearing in mind the club will move from four to three days’ training.
“The management have accepted the proposal, however unfortunately the players have not agreed.
“I must further inform supporters that if a solution or further investment cannot be found by the end of August it is likely that the directors will consider the club insolvent and as a consequence will be forced to cease trading.”
Dover finished 12th in the National League during the curtailed 2019-20 season. The 2020-21 season is due to begin on 3 October, a date designed to coincide with the planned return of spectators to stadiums.
According to the government 1 October is the earliest date by which fans could make a comeback, but there are doubts over that possibility after the prime minister paused pilot events owing to a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.
The viability of the National League as a whole would be under question if fans were unable to return to grounds because gate receipts are a primary source of income for clubs.