| 12.9°C Dublin

'We got plenty of money to tide us over for months'

St Mirren's Irish manager Goodwin is being one of the lucky few football clubs who will be able to survive crisis

Close

RELIEVED: St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin shouts instructions during their Premiership
match away to Celtic this month. Photo: Getty Images

RELIEVED: St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin shouts instructions during their Premiership match away to Celtic this month. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

RELIEVED: St Mirren boss Jim Goodwin shouts instructions during their Premiership match away to Celtic this month. Photo: Getty Images

As the financial tsunami from Covid-19 threatens to engulf Scottish football like any other professional sport in Europe, one man there is not worried about wages. For now, anyway.

Hearts last week told their players they can either accept a 50 per cent pay cut or redundancy, while this week a worried Aberdeen admitted they are facing a £5million shortfall and will need drastic measures to survive that.

But Jim Goodwin, the Irish-born manager of SPL side St Mirren, is more relaxed, or as relaxed as anyone can be in these challenging times.

"We had a board meeting last week and thankfully this club is in a very healthy position, our outgoings would be nowhere near the likes of Aberdeen or Hearts. In terms of salaries and staff, we are a very small organisation," says Goodwin, his first season as a top-flight manager interrupted by the coronavirus crisis.

"The players have been told their contracts will be honoured and we are one of the few clubs who are not in a difficult financial situation ... that's at the moment. For the foreseeable future, we have plenty of money in the bank to tide us over for the next four or five months.

"If it goes beyond that, we'd be the same as any other business out there. Football is no different to any other industry in the world when you have no income coming in. At the moment, we are OK. There are no talks of cuts or lay-offs, which is fantastic peace of mind for all the staff.

"People get caught up in the whole thing with football clubs and think it's just about the players and manager, but there is a hell of a lot more going on behind the scenes. Everyone is affected by it, the office staff, ticket office, club shop, catering. But we are okay."

He's aware that not everyone is so secure. "It's a nightmare and football is not that important at times like this. We all love the sport, but it's on the backfoot now," says Goodwin, capped once at senior level.

"The big issues will be sponsorship and TV deals. If we say this season is null and void, do all the companies come in and look for their money back?

"If that happens it's a disaster as a lot of clubs spend the money as soon as they get it and they don't have the money to reimburse those companies, sponsorship will be key and clubs will be worried."

Scottish football right now is in lockdown, Goodwin's club putting things on hold even before Boris Johnson's announcement of a lockdown on Monday evening. His players were off last week, were due to return to training on Monday but that's now on hold, players told to train solo in local parks or their back gardens,

Still only 38, Goodwin began his senior career with Celtic and has been in Scotland, as player and manager, since 2010 so he knows the lie of the land and he understands that the game there is in danger.

"I don't see how we are going to be kicking a ball any time soon. I don't want to tell my players to switch off and not think about it but at the same time I am realistic enough to know what's happening in the world, in other countries, this is not going away any time soon," he admits.

"I only go off what I see on the news, but I can't see we will be playing football at the end of April, not a chance in the world. This is going to drag on for a hell of a long time.

" I think the government will just tell the sporting bodies that they are not playing until a certain date and then it's up to the authorities to act."

Questions remain over whether to simply pause this season and resume when possible, or to just have a cut-off point, end it then and judge the season on those standings.

That would suit his club who have been battling with relegation all season and looked to be winning that battle before the suspension of all football, and as a Liverpool fan he'd love to see the Anfield club land the title, but he's not sure how to solve it.

"In terms of finishing this season, I don't know how that will work, getting players back to fitness will be a major issue. Usually in pre-season you have six weeks before the first competitive game, so players would run the risk of serious injury if we said you have to get back playing. It's not possible, the amount of muscle injuries you'd get would be dangerous," Goodwin warns.

"And there's the contract issues, we have 10 players out of contract at the end of May. What happens to them, are clubs allowed to go out and sign new players and strengthen their squads in June for the remaining eight games of the season?

"That makes no sense to me, and the longer it goes on, the more this season is in jeopardy. We need to do things in line with UEFA as they have calls to make on the Champions League and the international matches, I don't think anyone knows what to do.

"I don't envy those who make the decisions, no one wants to just hand a club a league title or relegate someone when there is a chance of them staying in the league. I don't have the answer to that."

Goodwin says he has enjoyed his first season in the top flight, having cut his teeth as manager of part-time side Alloa. "I have loved being in the Premier League" he says.

"The aim was to keep the club in the league and with the position we are in and the eight games we had left, I think we could have finished higher than ninth, where we are now. As a club, St Mirren's highest finish was eighth and I think we could have possibly matched that or beaten it."

He's also pleased with his mid-season bout of shopping in Ireland - the January capture of Cork City's Conor McCarthy and Dundalk man Jamie McGrath.

"The two boys have been excellent, two lads who were young but still had great experience from the League of Ireland and they are a pleasure to work with as well, two great professionals. The other players have appreciated them and they know why we brought Jamie and Conor in," he added.