Bury Town may be tightening their belts now and focusing on hitting the ground running next season, but chairman Russell Ward does not expect the current campaign to peter out.
The Blues, unbeaten since November’s wages were late and only paid in part, host Thamesmead Town at Ram Meadow on Saturday (3pm) hoping to maintain their good form.
But with only 11 senior players left at the club — and with Sebastian Dunbar suspended for the visit of struggling Mead — the hopes of Bury keeping up a push for the Ryman Premier play-offs look slim.
“You can’t fault the lads’ efforts during December — they knew the situation, but they knuckled down, pulled the shirt on and went out there and got the job done,” said Ward.
“We’re under no illusions it’s going to be easy, but they have proved it can be done and I certainly don’t expect them to go out and get beaten every week because there is a lot of quality in the side.
“It’s important the season doesn’t just peter out — we do want to be able to talk to the players about next season.
“While some of the players might be a bit sceptical, the likes of Marcus Garnham and Tom Bullard have been here a long time and are important players to the team.
“There will be a time in the not-too-distant future that we sit down with the contract players to see what their thoughts are for next year.
“Hopefully we can convince them enough that it’s the right place to be.
“While things haven’t gone right this year, it’s the first year in the past 12 years that the club have had an issue.
“The club will learn lessons from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Some of the current squad remain without part of their wages from November — although have been paid up in full for December — while some others have taken pay cuts.
But with Shane Tolley, David Bridges and Ryan Semple — who are still owed money for their December wage packets — choosing to leave the club, Ward said that should prevent any further cut to wages.
“We spoke to all the players taking a pay cut, but the fact three players have chosen to leave has probably saved us having to cut the wages of other players and got it to a level we believe is manageable until the end of the season,” said the chairman, who has eyes on ‘hitting the ground running’ next season.
Ward added: “The idea is to try and put a budget in for next year, which will be a budget we can compete on.
“It will be written in stone and will be worked out correctly as something we know we can fund.
“We’ve worked that way for a number of years, but the last year or two we probably have overspent and this has proved we can’t do that.”
* Keep up to date with the very latest news from the Blues via our dedicated online Bury Town section at www.buryfreepress.co.uk/sport/football/bury-town and in Friday’s paper.