Ashington AFC, a club steeped in history since its founding in 1883 and nestled in the hometown of football legends like Sir Bobby Charlton, Jack Charlton, Jackie Milburn, and Jimmy Adamson, is facing a critical moment in its remarkable journey. From our days as a Football League club to our recent promotion, Ashington AFC has been a symbol of pride and heritage in our community.
Brian Shotton, our Chairman, reflects on our remarkable journey and the challenges facing the club: “When we took over the Club in 2018, it was in a very difficult place. We had to begin settling substantial debts and operated on very limited budgets for 18 months. Throughout this challenging period, our loyal supporters stood by us as we navigated our way with frugality. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic presented its own set of challenges, but it also provided an opportunity for us to review the club’s operations, reduce our remaining debt to a manageable level, invest in club facilities, furnishings, and infrastructure, and develop a comprehensive business plan with a five-year promotion target. Our team exceeded expectations, winning two trophies, growing matchday attendances, and embarking on an impressive FA Cup run, culminating in last season’s promotion.”
Shotton continues, “We began planning early in the New Year when promotion looked possible, and we set the club ambitious commercial targets to match our progress. While we were over the moon when we secured the historic promotion, the real test had truly begun. We found ourselves two years ahead of schedule in terms of on-field success but two years behind in terms of off-field progress, which would have to be accelerated. Almost overnight, the club faced the reality of critical and costly stadium improvements, substantial travel costs, and players understandably asking for increases due to the travel and time away on a Saturday afternoon. We immediately set out to engage the community and secure the funding required for a club like ours to operate at this level, utilising sponsorships and our ‘Build the Budget’ scheme. While we are immensely grateful for the support we’ve received from our sponsors, supporters, and donors, the current economic climate has made it challenging for us to reach our financial goals. It’s disheartening that even with home crowds exceeding 500, sustainability at this level remains elusive without substantial external support. We are not alone in that, having seen other clubs in recent years encounter similar issues We can obtain up to 70% of stadium improvement funding from the Football Foundation depending on the project, but even that remaining percentage is prohibitive while concurrently operating with the ongoing running costs.
With our Crowdfunder initiative, our mission is clear: we aim to stay at this level, enhance our stadium, and continue the growth of our club while giving back to those who contribute. Any support, big or small, will be genuinely appreciated. Our town boasts a storied footballing history with the Charltons and Milburns and together, we can add another memorable chapter to that legacy and make our goals a reality. We are incredibly proud of our community work and our roots in this town. Let’s come together and achieve our aim!”
You can find our crowdfunder at the following link: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/ashingtonafc