Vauxhall Motors chairman Alan Bartlam has revealed that the club would have resigned from the Conference North far sooner had it not been for its famous 2002 FA Cup run.
Following an emergency meeting last week, Motors announced that they would be quitting non-league football’s second tier and dropping into the West Cheshire League at the end of the season.
Bartlam cited the financial difficulties in maintaining a semi-professional football club on meagre resources as the reason behind the decision, which has left all players and coaching staff needing to find pastures new for next season.
The Motors chairman said that if the club had not enjoyed their money-spinning journey to the FA Cup second round 12 years ago, when they defeated Queen’s Park Rangers on penalties in a replay at Loftus Road, they would not have been able to continue this long.
“The money from the FA Cup run in 2002 kept us going for quite a few years and this decision would have been made some time ago if it hadn’t have happened,” said Bartlam.
“This was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly. This is a club I hold dear and the reason for making the decision was to ensure that we keep the club going and are able to run all the other senior and junior sides in the community.”
Bartlam revealed that it costs the club around £800 to host a home game and that low crowds make it unfeasible to run a side at such a high level.
“The economic reality is that if we had 350 people coming through the gates then we would be okay,” said Bartlam.
“The reality is that we have 150 to 200, and with all the costs that come with putting a game on, this is a decision that we have been heading towards for some time. It is the senior side that is the drain on income.
“We’ve had 19 great years in the pyramid and, when we get our financial situation straight, we wouldn’t rule out making a comeback in a few years.”
Bartlam took the time to hail departed Carl Macauley as ‘one in a million.’
Macauley vacated the Motors hot-seat on Tuesday to take up the assistant manager’s role under Steve Burr at Conference Premier neighbours Chester FC.
He had originally suggested he would stay with the Rivacre Park club until the end of the season.
But, after taking charge of Motors for the final time in the late 1-0 defeat to Guiseley on Saturday, Macauley was asked to join Burr and Blues first team coach Jon McCarthy on the backroom staff at the Swansway Chester Stadium.
Long-serving chairman Bartlam was quick to heap praise on Macauley for the work he had done in his two spells at the Ellesmere Port club, claiming that there is ‘nobody else in football’ who could have done what he has with such little resources.
“In my opinion, we have had the benefit of one of non-league football's greatest managers at this club,” said Bartlam.
"Carl has done an unbelievable job on a shoestring budget. We will all be disappointed to see him go, but thoroughly understand his position and wish him every success in the future. He will always be close to our hearts.
“He is one in a million. What he has achieved at this football club despite having no money to spend is unbelievable. I can’t speak highly enough of him.
“I honestly don’t believe that there is anybody else in football who could have done what Carl has done. He worked miracles with such little money.”
Macauley, who played for Motors in the West Cheshire League in the mid 1990s, was appointed Vauxhall manager for the first time back in January 2006, when he succeeded Owen Brown at the helm.
As a player he captained Burscough to their famous 2003 FA Trophy success over Tamworth at Aston Villa’s Villa Park ground.
After leaving Motors in June 2011 for a full-time post with Liverpool FC’s academy sides, Macauley returned in November of that year and once again kept Motors in the Conference North.
“His record with us speaks for itself and he has proven himself to be a brilliant manager.” added Bartlam.
“Every season he managed to put together a side that has been competitive in the Conference North against clubs who have much larger resources than ours.”
Vauxhall will now regroup and focus on their junior and West Cheshire League sides.
Assistant manager Anthony Wright and coach Gary Martindale will take charge of the first team for the rest of the season.