High-flying Bray Wanderers played host to Dundalk at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night as the club sat in third place behind the Lillywhites after a terrific upturn in form over the past year.
Harry Kenny has done an outstanding job with the playing staff at Bray, but the attendances are still dramatically low and thus the club's finances are a cause for concern. The sale of Dylan Connolly to Dundalk saw a number of questions asked, so chairman Denis O'Connor released a statement at half-time on Friday night to address that, although the report on finances and attendances not sound particularly promising at all.
On Connolly, O'Connor was eager to express that the deal was best for all parties after the club had rebuffed some seriously low enquiries for the player before the season started.
Firstly, at the start of this season we never received a single offer but we did have enquiries. Those enquiries were less and €100,000, less than €50,000, and less than €25,000.
Dundalk FC recently made an offer, we discussed it internally in the club, consulted Dylan and his agent and when Dylan said that he was keen to join Dundalk FC as part of his pathway in developing as a footballer we felt the best interests for all lay in releasing him.
And as our statement said, we wish him every good luck in his future career.
The statement then revealed Bray's attendances from recent matches, which were as bleak as expected.
While matches against the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians saw over 1000 people attend, as little as 255 people turned up to see Wanderers take on Galway United.
Apart from our season ticket holders we estimate that out average home support base is somewhere along the lines of - Adult: 125/165 and Concession: 90/120.
This tells us that the support base is just not there!
O'Connor then outlined how a lack of support via local advertising, and not being able to use the Carlisle Grounds for anything other than football or rugby further hurt the club's finances.
But his summary at the end of the statement made for ominous reading, as the chairman explained that it is not viable for the club to continue in it's current state.
It is just not viable to continue to run a club at the level expected by fans without the proper support.
A huge effort has been put into the club by many volunteers in the past few years, Harry has done a great job with the senior squad, and substantial funds have been put in to support this effort for which we are grateful.
But what is the point if we cannot get the minimum financial and supporter base which a great club like this deserves?
It all sounds rather dark for the club's future.
It remains to be seen if anything can be done to draw more numbers to the Carlisle Grounds on a Friday night, but if things don't turn around soon we could actually be looking at a 10-team league sooner than expected, as Bray are not the only financial strugglers.