It costs about £26,000-£27,000 a year just to tick over, reveals Holmesdale chairman Ray Tolfrey

Sunday 04th June 2017

HOLMESDALE chairman Ray Tolfrey says it costs £27,000 a year to run the club in the tenth-tier of English football.

Mr Tolfrey has returned to the Bromley based club after seven seasons away, after moving to Pluckley to live and watching his goalkeeper son Rob play for Kingstonian in the Ryman League.

The club confirmed yesterday that Tolfrey has taken over from Mark Harris as chairman.

The Dalers finished in the top eight in the Southern Counties East Football League First Division in Ian Varley’s first season in charge, after suffering relegation after finishing at the foot of the SCEFL table 12 months earlier.

“I moved down to Pluckley in January 2010, so I finished that season, so it’s been seven seasons,” recalled Mr Tolfrey.

“First five years really that was it, no football at all, just watching Rob until Tony (Beckingham) talked me into going and helping out at East Grinstead and Chatham with him.”

When asked his reasons for returning to Oakley Road, Mr Tolfrey replied: “Well Mark’s too busy to carry on so he’s stepping down to be treasurer and nobody else seemed to come forward to take over from Mark.

“I’ve been disappointed that they’ve been on a slide in the last year or so.

“I’ve always been the lease holder here, you see, I’ve always had that tie with the club.  I’ve got a bit of free time because the wife’s doing different work, so I’ve said I’ll come back.”

Former Holmesdale player, Lee Roots, has returned to the club as Varley’s assistant after managing Chipstead in the Kent County League.

“That was down to Ian, he’s decided on that,” said Mr Tolfrey.

“We know Lee because he was a player when we were here before. Ian’s staying, not a problem.  I think he’s quite happy. He’s lost a few players but we’ll start afresh this year.

“Well, what I’d like is to get back up to the Premier Division as soon as possible.

“Off the pitch they seem to have it, Mark’s really stabilised the club and got it running well.  There’s people here now so I didn’t mind coming back, whereas before I was doing it all.  There’s a few more people now.  We seem to have it quite nice off the pitch.

“I’m trying to get a bit of funding to update the facilities a little bit more with a new stand and that’s in our plans for the near future.

“I’m actually standing in the away dressing room now. We’ve just actually refurbished the showers totally. We’re in there now today.  The showers are finished, we’re just ready to have a re-decoration and a tidy up because they were disgusting to be quite honest with you.   We’re going through the whole place and giving it a face-lift.”

Holmesdale run at a zero playing budget and the amount it costs to run the club at their current level is astonishing.

“Mark (Harris) was throwing me the figures for this one, because ‘were only leaseholders and it’s private, the freeholders are private so it’s not a cheap one. This one is about £26,000-£27,000 a year just to tick over.

“That’s why we get into the realms, we can’t compete with the boys that are paying the budgets and things like that.

“That (figure) is literally just to keep the ground ticking over with the maintenance and the lease and the bills.”

When asked why people become involved with non-league football clubs, Mr Tolfrey replied it’s a “hobby” of his.

“I can’t answer that one. I think it’s something that people have in them, certain people.  For me, it’s a hobby.  I don’t play golf, I don’t really have any hobbies, both my boys play, I always kind of said that’s my hobby.

“We get helped now by having that groundshare (with FC Elmstead) and that’s why we have that groundshare because that displaces that kind of figure.”

Varley has been challenged to push for promotion next season.

Mr Tolfrey said: “Can you ask some of our players that we used to have  to get us back up as quickly as possible because all of this restructuring thing that they keep banding about, this level doesn’t look good for this season does it?

“I think ideally everybody that’s got the grading are going to say the same thing. Our priority is to try to get back up.  A lot of the other club’s are all going to have the same aims, sooner or later.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult to get up this year. We’re all going to be in the same boat but that’s going to be our aim.”

Holmesdale’s pre-season campaign include home games against Vanarama National League sides Maidstone United (19 July) and Bromley (26 July), which will bring in much-needed funds into the club going into their new campaign, which kicks off on Saturday 5 August 2017.

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