The world of football has been placed on temporary suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic but for the so-called “smaller clubs”, the impact can be far more severe than it is on the wealthier sides.
For Forest Green Rovers, a League Two side based in the small village of Nailsworth in Gloucestershire, the postponement of games came at a bad time for Mark Cooper’s side on the pitch.
Rovers were winless in eight games in League Two before making the short trip to league-toppers Swindon Town, where they defied the odds to pick up the three points in a 2-0 win at the County Ground.
This would have given everyone involved in the club a huge boost going into the final 10 games of the campaign.
Forest Green are sat in 11th-place in the table after a very disappointing 2020 so far but the victory in Wiltshire could have given the side the confidence required to mount a late charge at the play-off positions.
Forest Green’s small stadium, the New Lawn, holds 5,147 people but the ground averages an attendance of 2,282.
Matchday tickets at the stadium range from £8 to £25, meaning that missing home games can have a huge impact on the club’s financial state.
Rovers reported an annual loss of £785,000 for the financial year ending April, 2019, meaning the club will have an even tougher time trying to make the sum back.
Owner Dale Vince is a very wealthy man, though, and had an estimated worth of around £107 million back in 2018, according to Gloucestershire Live.
According to Bristol Live, Vince is the richest owner in League Two apart from Salford City, who have stakes in the club from the “Class of 92” – former Manchester United players – as well as Singaporean businessman Peter Lim.
For the majority of League Two sides, the coronavirus pandemic will have a massive financial impact on the club itself, but for Forest Green, without tempting fate, their survival is far more certain than others thanks to Vince – who owns the multi-million pound business, Ecotricity – where Rovers have previously borrowed money from.
As it stands, the EFL plan on finishing the 2019/20 season, but under such unprecedented circumstances that we are currently facing, nobody has a clear idea of when this outbreak will end, or at least start to slow down.
If all goes well, then Rovers will have the chance to make one last push for the play-off places after April 30, when English football is currently scheduled to return.
Cooper’s side have shown this season that they are a very talented group of players, with stars such as Jack Aitchison, Ebou Adams, Carl Winchester, Liam Shephard and Joseph Mills all shining this campaign.
CHALLENGE…— Forest Green Rovers (@FGRFC_Official) March 19, 2020
Want to take on the Rovers players at the #StayAtHomeChallenge?
Post your best attempt on Instagram stories, and don’t forget to tag us…
Try not to break anything though, right @Ebouadams?
Good luck 🙌#WeAreFGR pic.twitter.com/yUZmEVdZfT
The momentum from their win at Swindon would have undoubtedly come to its conclusion now, with the side not having played competitive football since March 7.
Forest Green still have some big games between now and the end of the campaign, including the big one against local rivals and fellow Gloucestershire side, Cheltenham Town, which was originally scheduled to be played this weekend, but will of course change due to the postponement.