TAUNTON Town Football Club is “managing with difficulty”, says club chairman Kevin Sturmey, with all sport in lockdown during the coronavirus crisis.

The Southern League Premier South season has been cut short with 11 games going unplayed for the Peacocks - and this coming off the back of a winter which had seen countless matches postponed by waterlogged pitches.

There are no broadcasting rights or multi-million shirt sponsorship deals here; Non-League clubs make their money from fans coming through the turnstiles.

Sturmey told the County Gazette: “We are managing with difficulty.

“Games that are postponed due to the weather will be played at some point, but here we have no money coming in from football.

“Sponsorship tends to be front-loaded so, while we have some general income, 75 per cent of our income at this time of year comes from football.

“Football at our level is hand to mouth. We’re well set; we started the season making a profit, but that’s been wiped away.

“With credit cards you hope to pay them off; now we’re looking at moving on to a zero per cent rate over 15 to 18 months, to defer when we’re paid back or, worst comes to worst, move them again.

“We’re 95 per cent run by volunteers, so it’s down to goodwill and directors subsiding it.”

He added: “TV money has taken top level football beyond the comprehension of most people.

“Our problem is competing with TV. The Hendon match [on March 4] had the lowest crowd [378] we’ve had in some time.

“The weather was poor, people expected it to be called off, and that maybe cost us 120 people, which might have paid our electricity bill for the month!

“The Premier League, Football League, Champions League and Europa League can finish their seasons, as the broadcast rights would allow that if it was safe.

“But there will be Non-League clubs who don’t survive this.

“Our biggest advantage is owning our own ground, and we’re in a strong position to come out of this.”

One of the most unsettling things about the coronavirus pandemic is the fact that so much is unknown, and that is no good for a football club which wants to plan ahead.

“We don’t know when it will be safe to play - this is a horrible, horrible thing that goes beyond football,” Sturmey said.

“However hard it is, we have to look to the future, have some forward planning.

“We rely on sponsors, which bring in good money for us, but with businesses struggling they may decide that sponsorship is a luxury they can’t afford.

“Businesses don’t know where they will be in three months, and we don’t know what we can offer them.

“It’s a frightening time for businesses, staff and the self-employed.

“From what we understand, we believe we are eligible for a £10,000 grant, which would come in very handy, and the 12 months’ business rate holiday takes that particular fear away.”

Putting football aside for the moment, Sturmey is eager for the club to play a useful role in the community in what is a very difficult time for so many.

He said: “We all have to change our behaviour and pull together.

“I asked Alan [Slade, finance director] to send me the list of concession ticket holders - some had emails, others phone numbers, and we had a good response.

“We only had one who had had to self-isolate, and I was able to drop off a prescription for him.

“It shows you don’t need physical contact, and it only cost me a little time.

“You don’t realise with the people you see at games, you don’t know if they have family or support in the local area.

“This is frightening for the over-70s and those with underlying health conditions, so it’s nice to get phone calls or messages from people who have appreciated us getting in contact.

“If anyone does need help, just email me [chairman@tauntontown.com].

“We’re here as a club to help our community and work with anyone to get us all through it.

“Football is on the back burner for now, so we want to help people - just contact us, as the people here are more than happy to help.”