The news that Ilkeston’s players and staff haven’t been paid for a while has been no secret in and around the New Manor Ground and amongst the club’s fans.
I’d held off writing a story on it up to now because for obvious reasons there may well have been a reluctance amongst those affected to talk and sometimes it can be counterproductive to start blazing all this stuff across the newspaper pages.
But with players now starting to post things about it all on social media, and with other outlets also readying stories to broadcast this week, it was time to get it out there, particularly given Matt Baker was good enough to talk publicly on the matter.
To his immense credit, Baker spoke with no hatred, vitriol or anger, merely expressing his frustration at the situation not having been resolved.
Whilst it’s true that the age of most of Ilkeston’s squad means that it’s unlikely many mortgages aren’t being paid or children aren’t being fed, they’ll have very few other income streams available meaning that being unable to put petrol in their cars or pay for a beer (or in some cases, lemonade) or two will be just as much of an annoyance.
One can only hope the impact on other, older members of staff who may be affected is not too damaging.
It all begs the question as to why it’s got like this in the first place.
We know, or at least have been told, that the club ended up with nowhere near as much money as they perhaps should have done from the Che Adams deal, with a lot of that cash having had to go elsewhere, and we also know that sponsorship has apparently dried up in recent months.
Gates have dropped too meaning money through the turnstiles hasn’t been as forthcoming, and when you add all that up alongside the fact that Ilkeston appear to still have a good few debts to pay, the balance sheet can’t make good reading.
For a club at this level to be struggling to even pay their players leaves many an alarm bell ringing and quite clearly is a cause for concern.
Where Nigel Harrop will get the funds from to pay the substantial amount of money owed to his staff, among others, is a question only he can really answer - if he knows himself.
When I spoke to Harrop this week, it struck me he’s petty much had enough of all the abuse and stress involved and he’s said he is very keen to see the club in new hands. Time will tell as to whether anyone is willing enough to take it on.
Over the last year or two, Harrop has often told me about potential investors hovering but seemingly none have put any, or much, money into the club.
You perhaps can’t blame them - investing in a non-league football club is rarely likely to see you make much money in return unless big bucks are made through cup runs, player sales and so on to make the club that much more valuable.
All of the current problems, along with the fact that relegation remains a nigh on certainty, means the New Manor Ground is not a pleasant place to be at the moment, which is such a shame given how much of an enjoyable place it has been to watch football so often in the past.
The next few weeks will be unpleasant on a number of levels as we most likely witness the Robins drop down a division, going against everything this much-heralded ethos was supposed to produce and seeing the club take a huge step backwards.
Whether an interested onlooker, a fan or just a lover of football, we can only hope the club will soon thrive again.
After all, Ilkeston deserves better.