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City want to put key players on contract
WORCESTER City are poised to tie a number of their top players down to contracts for next season.
The threat of seeing talent poached by rival clubs without compensation is something the Blue and Whites have been unable to guard against in recent campaigns due to financial uncertainty.
This season has seen captain Tom Thorley move to Skrill North rivals Hednesford Town, while City could not secure the services of defensive midfielder Rob Elvins or striker Mike Symons last summer.
But chairman Anthony Hampson says a healthy fanbase, allied to expected strong season-ticket sales, should allow manager Carl Heeley to protect the team’s main assets, such as top-scorer Daniel Nti.
The City chief also praised Heeley’s efforts at a fans’ forum in turning the club’s fortunes around.
“We have the confidence with the way this season has gone to consider contracting players,” Hampson said.
“Carl will be starting that process in the next fortnight to commit to players.
“I’m delighted with the way the season’s gone and the support for this transitional period for the club.
“The attendance at the fans’ forum was most encouraging.
“Supporters asked questions about the future of the club and the squad for next season. I’m very confident we can put a good squad together for next season.
“By mid-season, it was looking a bit difficult and there were questions being asked, but we have stood by Carl and we will keep doing that because he’s such an excellent manager.”
Having enjoyed a fine run of form so far in 2014, which has virtually secured their status in the division, City will be keen not to have to rebuild the squad from scratch in the summer.
The likes of Nti, fellow striker Ethan Moore and right-back George Williams could attract glances from other clubs but Worcester now feel they have the financial clout to keep them at Aggborough.
As well as season tickets and gate receipts, the club’s coffers continue to be swelled by the Gold Bond lottery.
Run nationally by Blackpool FC and carrying a weekly top prize of £2,000, supporters pay £1 a week to enter with around 70p going to City.
Hampson says it has been worth around £1,000 a week to the club and also revealed plans to employ a fundraising manager in the quest to make up the shortfall left by losing the Careys sponsorship, which was worth £62,500 a year.
He added: “A lot of people always ask me how they can help the club – this (Gold Bond) is a way they can without having to commit to massive amounts of money.”
Meanwhile, entry to City’s match at Aggborough against Brackley Town on Saturday, April 19, will be by donation.
The club want to attract as many people as possible to the game and are inviting them to pay anything they want to watch the match.
The fixture will be two days after a fans’ meeting in the Graeme Hick Pavilion at New Road to discuss the supporters’ trust plans for a new ground at Perdiswell.