Blyth AFC days from going out of existence as owner Barry Elliott reveals club is unsustainable

Blyth won the Division Two title last season.
Blyth won the Division Two title last season.

Northern League Division One club Blyth AFC are potentially just days away from going out of existence.

Club owner Barry Elliott has blamed a lack of support, a struggle to make the club sustainable and problems finding a home ground as the key reasons behind his decision to consider the club’s future.

Blyth AFC have made a strong start to the news season, including beating their landlords Ashington. Picture by Chris Chambers/CJC Photo

Blyth AFC have made a strong start to the news season, including beating their landlords Ashington. Picture by Chris Chambers/CJC Photo

The Braves are riding high in the Division One table after an impressive summer of recruitment including the signings of former FA Vase winners Curtis Coppen and Adam Forster.

They are set to travel to Knaresborough Town in the Preliminary Round tomorrow with just under £3,000 up for grabs for the winners of the tie.

That tie will go ahead and Elliott insisted that the club will fulfil that fixture.

He also revealed that no timeframe has been placed on a date of closure for the club but did reveal that is could come as soon as early next week.

Blyth AFC chairman Barry Elliott, right.

Blyth AFC chairman Barry Elliott, right.

“The club has been on an incredible journey since we were founded in 2015,” said Elliott.

“We have a team that won the Northern Alliance twice, finished eighth in our first season in Division Two of the Northern League and then won it in our second season.

“We have won all five of our games so far this season and we are top of the table.

“We have been successful as a club but we don’t have the support, we don’t have a home or security of tender and no income. That’s unsustainable and we are a business.

“Any business, football club or not, can’t be function if it’s not sustainable.

“Progress in the FA Cup would help massively because we could get a draw against a South Shields or a Blyth Spartans and pull in a big crowd that way.

“We don’t want to let the club go but it could be Monday, it could be next week, it could never happen but we can’t carry on being unsustainable as we are right now.

“It’s not about making a profit here, it’s about making this club sustainable and it isn’t.”

The Braves have been playing “home” games at Ashington’s Woodhorn Lane since February after leaving their South Newsham ground due to concerns over the quality of their pitch.

Moves to head back to Blyth have been blocked by the local council and despite Elliott claiming he had approached National League North neighbours Blyth Spartans over a groundshare at Croft Park, Spartans have denied that any recent approach has been made.

Elliott believes that a move back to the town was essential if the club is to stay in business but feels that it is unlikely that it will happen.

He said “We didn’t really realise how little support we had until the first few games of this season.

“There were 80 supporters at our first home game and just over that at the second one and I put on a free bus to the FA Cup game (at Glasshoughton Welfare) but nobody took me up on the offer.

“The local council in Blyth aren’t giving us any support in trying to move back to the town and the Football Association haven’t offered us anything either.

“We approached Blyth Spartans to see if they could host us but understandably they don’t have the capacity as they have two teams playing on their pitch.

“We need to get back to Blyth, it could reinvigorate us as a club and we need people to support us because the club is in the middle of nowhere right now.

“We can’t get promoted into the Evo-Stik League because we don’t have security of tender and we can’t get back to the town.

“We can’t go anywhere, we are lost as a club.”

Elliott admitted that he is surprised at the lack of support for the club after a successful period.

However, he did concede that he had underestimated the impact of having a historic non-league club on their doorstep.

“I am absolutely surprised by the lack of support,” he added. “I know that most clubs at our level are just about sustainable but we aren’t anywhere near that.

“Maybe I was wrong that there was room for two major clubs in Blyth but you look at Carlisle, there are many clubs in that area that are surviving.

“I see no reason why Blyth can’t have two successful clubs playing at a high level.”

The Braves’ next home game comes on Wednesday as Whitley Bay visit Woodhorn Lane but there are doubts over that fixture as doubts over the future of Blyth AFC remain in place.