WHEN the dust settles on Hereford United's miraculous escape from relegation, the attention must switch to reality.

While the drama surrounding the Bulls' survival in the dying minutes of the final game of the season is what football stories are made of, there is a bigger picture at Edgar Street.

Headline-grabbing though their achievement at the weekend was, this is still a club in financial strife, a situation not guaranteed to be solved by remaining in non-league's top-flight.

There is still the very real threat of administration, which could leave United with a 10-point penalty at the start of next season.

Staying up won't suddenly lead to the huge injection of cash which chairman David Keyte has said is needed to keep the club afloat in the long term.

They will still be faced with playing in a predominantly full-time league and all the player wages and running costs that go with that.

It was such expenditure that took them to the brink twice this season with winding-up orders, both avoided after fund-raising efforts by the supporters.

However, it should be stated that surviving could also be the catalyst to turn things around at Hereford (pictured celebrating a goal above). Relegation would have done nothing to boost morale, whereas the fighting qualities shown by Pete Beadle's team will have given fans hope for the future.

Potential investors might be easier to attract now that the immediate threat of relegation has passed.

The Hereford United Supporters' Trust are also considering a possible takeover bid and are ready to talk with the board of directors.

If Hereford end up getting themselves back on the straight and narrow financially then the last four minutes of drama at Aldershot on Saturday will be looked back on as a watershed moment in their history.

If they don't, the process of the past nine months is likely to be repeated next term and fans will be in for another season of struggle.

They have been thrown a lifeline. Now is the time for everyone at Hereford to pull together and do what they can to ensure the club has a future.