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Cheltenham Town: We will spend but won't take risks - Baker

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: January 19, 2013

Paul Baker

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CHELTENHAM Town chairman Paul Baker has hit back at supporters who have accused him of lacking ambition.

The League Two club have recorded a profit of more than £200,000 for the year ending May 2012 – the third year in a row they have been in the black.

It is a far cry from the crippling loss of £826,698 they made in 2009 leaving them on the verge of administration and Baker described the turnaround since then as "nothing short of amazing".

Last year's figures were enhanced by a trip to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup third round and a play-off final appearance at Wembley, but Baker warned the club's healthy financial state does not mean they will spend beyond their means.

"We are all amazed at how we've been able to turn things around so quickly and clear off a significant amount of debt too," Baker said.

"We still have debts, but to make small profits in the previous two years was nothing short of amazing and it's all down to tight management.

"We have made a good profit last year and with the fantastic season we had on the pitch it would be worrying if we hadn't.

"It's a well-managed business and everything is carefully controlled and monitored.

"Some fans expects us now to spend and spend, but we have to remember the club is for next year and the year after, not just this season.

"We won't be doing anything foolhardy and if fans want to call me unambitious that's fine by me, but look at Swindon."

Last year's League Two champions Swindon have fallen into debts of £13 million and are considering entering administration.

Cheltenham fans have been left frustrated after top striking target Paul Benson turned down a loan move from Swindon, but Baker said he did not want to recruit players whose hearts are not in it.

"We identified Benson as a target and agreed terms with Swindon for his wages, which was more than Portsmouth were paying him when he was on loan there," Baker said.

"We wanted to take him until the end of the season, but the deal hasn't happened, for whatever reason.

"We were willing to make a big wage commitment there, but I am certainly not crying into my soup because it may not have been a good idea to put all our eggs in one basket, so we wish Benson good luck and move on.

"We only want players who actually want to be here and I am still confident Mark can bring in some quality signings between now and the end of this month.

"I am comfortable that we have gone as far as we can to meet Mark's aspirations and it's now up to him what he does with the money.

"He can go into the transfer market with it, or spend it on wages, that's completely down to his discretion.

"We are being careful and prudent, but that doesn't mean we are not being ambitious."

Cheltenham's disappointing home attendances mean they are down around £2,000 on budget for each match at the Abbey Business Stadium. They are currently averaging gates of 2,958 in League Two.

"That's a loss of about £50,000 over the course of the season because we need to be averaging around 3,200, but I think we have a chance of making some of that up," Baker said.

"Crowds have been the one disappointment with 6,000 here for Everton, but less than half that the following Saturday.

"But that's life and we have a lot of big home games coming up so hopefully we'll see an increase."

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  • sensible_sid  |  January 22 2013, 6:28PM

    Hi CheltRobin.. Like all shareholders,he'll want his money back sooner or later and that's why there are at least 4 parties interested in buying he Club... All Clubs are indebted to their shareholders to some extent (Even Cheltenham) and accept that they maybe lucky to get some or all of their investment back! I've got 10 shares in Swindon Town and know that I'll be lucky to get my £100k back (more like £20 !) Swindon's reduction in income this year is due partly to early departure from the Cups whereas Cheltenham did well out of the FA Cup this year which Mr Baker admitted helped a lot and allowed some of your Club's debts to be cleared.. Imagine what you could do with crowds around 8k at Cheltenham? The new Chairman at the Club is making sure that we are living within our means which includes no money for new players in the transfer window (unless of course someone gets sold!) http://tinyurl.com/bdmckm7

  • sensible_sid  |  January 22 2013, 6:17PM


  • CheltRobin  |  January 22 2013, 5:20PM

    Sid - I stand by my comment as I said that the chairman will want his money back that he's invested in Swindon. Whether that means all or part of the monies remains to be seen. The fact is also that Swindon overspent last summer after promtion and will now perhaps have to pay the price for this through losing key players during the transfer window. Di Canio has already been told that there is no money for new signings during Jan. it's not the most productive or fair way to run a club in my opinion, especially compared to how Chelt Town is run.

  • sensible_sid  |  January 22 2013, 2:36PM

    Message for CheltRobin and all the other people who were gloating at Swindon Town's alleged imminent demise following an article written by Chris Dunlavy (an OXFORD based journalist not that an OXFORD based journalist would write anything bad about Swindon Town) CheltRobin., do you still believe that Swindon Town should be (to quote you) Rightfully punished now that the truth has come out? I also come and pay to watch Chelt Town play occasionally and was disappointed at the lynch mob mentality exhibited on here.. I'd have been really pleased if Paul Benson had signed for CTFC as that wouldve given me more reason to come to your games! The moral of the story is DONT believe everything that you read in the press.. especially if its written by a journalist based in OXFORD who delighted in calling Swindon 'cheats' and then has to swallow his pride and print a retraction. You have to question the editorial control which allowed this untrue article to be written.. From : http://tinyurl.com/bxegavp SWINDON TOWN: Town receive apology from Football League Paper 1:21pm Tuesday 22nd January 2013 in News Town receive apology from Football League Paper Town receive apology from Football League Paper SWINDON Town have released a statement in which they reveal they have accepted an apology from the Football League Paper regarding an article published on Sunday. The piece, by staff writer Chris Dunlavy, suggested the club committed "financial doping" and "virtually cheated" their way to the League Two title last season. Town also confirm that the Football League Paper will pay damages. The statement read: "Swindon Town Football Club have today accepted the following apology from the Football League Paper following the article which appeared on Sunday 20th January. A letter was issued to the paper on Monday, demanding a retraction of the article, allied to an unreserved apology and a request for damages. All of these have been agreed to by the Football League Paper." Swindon also made public the apology sent by Mr Dunlavy, which reads: "Dear Sirs, I am writing to offer my unreserved apologies for my article in the Football League Paper on Sunday 20 January under the headline 'Swindon Town: The 'cheats' who really prospered'. It has been made abundantly clear to me by Swindon supporters that I have made a grave misrepresentation. Swindon Town's debt is owned 98 per cent by Andrew Black, the owner of the club, so no-one has 'gone unpaid' as I wrongly suggested. My intention had been to raise the wider issue of insolvency and debt in football, and more precisely the need for clubs to move towards self-sustainability. I saw Sir William Patey's reported comments about administration and used this as the basis for my comments. I chose the wrong target and for that I am genuinely sorry. Chris Dunlavy" Football League Paper editor in chief, David Emery said: "Chris Dunlavy is a fine young journalist who on this occasion allowed his crusading instincts to obscure the true facts. It is a harsh lesson. "Another regret of this unhappy episode is that, until now, Chris had always enjoyed good relations with Swindon and found the club to be both helpful and accommodating." In addition, the Football League Paper will make a £500 charity donation to Swindon's chosen charity of the year, the Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

  • sensible_sid  |  January 22 2013, 2:22PM


  • TommyI  |  January 21 2013, 8:51AM

    Well said all, the critisism written on the club forum is complete drivel. Why should he pump millions more of his own money down a black hole anyway!? Yes the man is clearly well off, but he's not Abramovich. Also, the article shows that it was Benson's choice not to drop down a league, not the money/lack of ambition, that scuppered the move.

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  • CheltRobin  |  January 20 2013, 8:06PM

    Sorry Sid, but because wants his investment back, the club are going to have to pay him back somehow, unless he writes off all or part of the debt. Also, the club should never of been allowed to run up such huge debts, when clubs like Chelt have a Chairman who runs his club within proper financial regulations. Swindon should be rightfully punished for how they achieved their promotion because it denies other clubs like Chelt who try to run their clubs properly. As for PB, he's the best chairman Chelt have ever had and surely 1 of the most financial astute chairman in the footy league - anyway who thinks otherwise is talking jibberish!

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  • sensible_sid  |  January 20 2013, 4:01PM

    Sorry to disappoint you but Swindon Town AREN'T £13million in debt.. The fact is that the current club owner - Andrew Black - wants to sell the Club and get his £10million share investment back! I've seen lots of so-called experts leap onto the headline figure but Swindon are nowhere near £13million in debt but some of our media colleagues are not prepared to let the truth get in the way of a good story! Take a look at Bristol City who have been reported as being £41million in debt.. and if Cheltenham get promoted this year, they'll probably be playing City next season..

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  • sensible_sid  |  January 20 2013, 3:53PM

    Oh dear!

  • AdamReader  |  January 19 2013, 10:52PM

    Baker doesn't lack ambition for the club but he is a realist and understands that with gates 1000 below the break even level the club cannot possibly generate the income to buy the players it really needs to. What I find extraordinary though is that fans, and coaches alike, consider that to accomplish what a club wants its always new and better players that need to be bought. How about something radical like a manager exercise his coaching skills and get his current players p.ayong to the limits of their ability, I'm not sure ours do all the time. Buying out of trouble and to establish ambition can only result in administration at a club like ours that lives at or just above the break even point. I do not see any mystery senator stepping in to augment what Baker has ploughed into the club over the last 16 years as Chairman and 2 years as Director before that.

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