Ely’s top football team has launched an urgent plea for help from residents and businesses amid growing financial difficulties that could eventually cripple the club.

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Ely City FC announced this week that it had been forced to delay paying its players and management because of a “lack of income” which could threaten the future of the city’s foremost football club.

The club insists that the players will be paid what they are owed but has appealed for people to invest in the club to ensure it has a viable future.

Chairman Robert Button said: “Due to a lack of income over the last year, I have had to inform the players and managers that they would get the expenses owed to them but not necessarily on the day they would expect.

“We have a verbal contract with the players and we have never broken that and will not this season.

“I have a loyal committee who give everything to help keep the club going but we need more members, young and old, to help us with fresh ideas to push the club forward.”

“We as a club are a long way from calling it a day but if we don’t get the money we need, that day will come.”

Mr Button said the club was still in discussion with developer Richard Sears about selling its lease on the Downham Road ground and moving to a new site in order to boost finances. Unless more money was brought it, Mr Button said the club would have to “seriously look” at Mr Sears’ offer.

Last season, Ely enjoyed good runs in both the FA Vase and Cambridgeshire Invitation Cup - which added an extra £5,000 to their pot - but poor performances in both competitions this year has seen them miss out on the much-needed funds.

The club are also struggling in the league and attendances at their Downham Road stadium, which go a long way to boosting funds, have dropped to below 100.

The chairman said that the bank had not been putting pressure on the club but he feared that could change if cash flow didn’t improve.

Mr Button added: “We need local businesses to invest in the football club as main sponsors or advertising boards or just buy shares in the club, all this will help bring the club back on a level footing.”

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