SUNBURY senior coach Rick Horwood says he is planning for the 2014 season with a drastically reduced football budget.
Horwood said the club would be forced to cut spending because of a downturn in sponsorship from the Sunbury Football Social Club, which is a major finance provider for the Lions.
More than $80,000 was passed onto the football/netball club last season, which could be reduced to zero in a worst case scenario this year.
Horwood said the football budget had been trimmed by about 30 per cent from 2013.
He said the mass exodus of players from the senior ranks – with at least 12 of last year’s grand final team either on the move or expected to retire – had made matters worse.
“We have been very well supported by the social club in the last 10 years. Now it’s time for us to support the social club going through these tough times,” Horwood said.
Horwood said after aiming for back-to-back premierships last year, simply making finals would be the goal this season.
Sunbury president Phil Lithgow said lower-than-expected gaming revenue from the social club meant the Lions are likely to cop a “significant reduction in sponsorship”.
Lithgow, who holds a position on the social club committee, said the downturn was specifically related to gaming at the venue.
“It’s a unique set of economic circumstances that have all hit at one point,” he said. “It’s a gaming related problem.”
Lithgow said he expected the loss of income to be a short-term problem, but admitted it would be felt across the board.
“It’s not without precedence I wouldn’t think,” he said.
Pokie players at the Sunbury Football Social Club lost $871,402.77 between July and December this financial year, which is less than the $934,734.55 lost in the same period 12 months before.
The news follows that from the Ballarat Football League, which is expected to significantly cut their sponsorship offerings to member clubs because of its
downturn in gaming profits from the Ballarat Leagues Club.