Updated: Sep 10
As clubs struggle to cope with the unexpected loss of income due to the coronavirus, too many have opted to remove the ringfence mechanism and turn a specific account into a general fund.
A ringfenced budget is one which is separated from a bigger budget to ensure money is reserved for a specific purpose. Football clubs often appeal for donations to ringfenced budgets usually, but not exclusively, to help clubs strengthen their player pool. Such arrangements are attractive to supporters because of the budget’s focussed aims; “exactly”, “says” and “tin” spring to mind.
A dedicated sub-committee is often established, comprising club and supporters’ representatives, to monitor the expenditure and regularly report back to donors, who like to be informed that without their contribution to the “Squad Fund”, or whatever, “the services of new striker Ernie Stiff would not have been secured.” Ringfenced budgets fall into disrepute, and break faith with the earlier donors, when the club amends their purpose, making them less specific and thus moving them away from their original stated purpose which attracted support in the first place. Such a blurring of purpose is quite unnecessary and can be avoided simply by setting up a new account or by using an organisation such as GoFundMe. The establishment of more than one ringfenced account also has the merit of giving supporters the chance to choose which part of the club’s activities they would like their donation to assist. As clubs struggle to cope with the unexpected loss of income due to the coronavirus, too many have opted to remove the ringfence mechanism and turn a specific account into a general fund. None of them, to my knowledge, have offered to refund money given to them for reasons which no longer apply. Lifting the ringfence restrictions is not a wise move and could have repercussions when we return to normal conditions. I for one will think twice about contributing to a so-called ringfenced budget in future but in the mid 1960s I would have certainly have supported the Players Fund illustrated below. Sadly it didn’t exist.