Hyde United’s cup hopes on hold as club fights for survival

HYDE United have found their hopes of cup glory put on hold because of the coronavirus.

Now the club is battling to avoid meltdown after losing vital off-field income.

Dave McGurk’s men were set to travel to Chester FC, the phoenix club from former Football League side Chester City, in the Cheshire Senior Cup semi-finals on Tuesday, March 31 after the Seals defeated League One Tranmere Rovers 1-0.

And in the Integro League Cup, Hyde triumphed 2-1 at Kidsgrove Athletic to make the semi-finals.

Weather delays meant they had to wait to find out who they would play – but all that was put on hold on Monday, March 16 when the league announced a complete shutdown over the COVID-19 bug.

A statement said: “The Northern Premier League has decided, reluctantly, to suspend all fixtures until further notice in light of the escalating COVID-19 outbreak.

“The League would like to congratulate the players, officials, volunteers and fans of clubs able to stage games and notes the excellent attendances at those fixtures.

“Whilst the primary responsibility of the league is to the financial sustainability of its member clubs, the number of clubs reporting players or officials in self-isolation has now reached a point at which continuing to play games would severely undermine the integrity of the competition.

“In consultation with the partners Eliteform, all NPL Football Academy fixtures have also been suspended until further notice.

Dave McGurk

“The NPL is well aware that clubs and fans need clarity around whether the 2019/20 season is to be suspended temporarily or permanently, and the full implications of either eventuality.

“The NPL will be working with the other Alliance Leagues and the Football Association, to assess the various options and to agree a way forward.

“As soon as we are able to, we will share that information with member clubs and their supporters.”

The shutdown news – and subsequent financial impact – overshadowed what looked like being a promising season in the cups.

To try and combat it, the Tigers launched a ‘virtual’ package where fans could buy virtual tickets, programmes and even food for what would have been the home game against Radcliffe Borough.

McGurk himself chipped in by paying £10 for a ticket, although he was asked if he wanted lemonade in his lager!

A spokesman said: “The shutdown is bad for the club in terms of revenue, even though the club is run by a supporters’ club, the club is always run as a tight ship.

“The virtual game was an idea of a director and it built from there. We’ve had donations from Finland and Norway, also Luton Town Fans and Doncaster fans have contributed.”

A sum of £2,115.50 – still several thousand down on a normal matchday – was raised but McGurk spelled out the harsh realities.

He told The Correspondent: “The postponement has come to a blow to everyone at the club for a number of reasons. There’s no doubt it had be done.

“Players, staff and fans have to be protected but there’s huge ramifications for the football club.

“Our main sources of income are from matchdays and 3G bookings. We have had most bookings cancelled and we are now without home fixtures.

“The next few weeks/months will be a test for football clubs like ours to survive. It’s a scary situation but there’s obviously a bigger picture with what is happening worldwide.

“From a football side of things, I’m gutted. I miss the interaction with the players and staff already and we are unsure on how long this will continue. We have had a brilliant season.

“Our position in this league is consolidated and we have two semi-finals to look forward to. I really hope we can continue the season in some way, but it looks unlikely.

“We have shut down the club now until further notice from the league. The players will look after themselves away from the club.

“The majority are on non-contracts and when we don’t play, they don’t get paid. There’s no way I can ask them to continue to come in and train.

“The club will make a decision on the contracted players and I hope we can fulfil them but money is tight.”

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