A former professional footballer has empathised with the increasing financial struggles faced by non-league clubs.
Tarkan Mustafa, who starred for Rushden and Diamonds, was responding to comments by angry Grays Athletic chairman Andy Swallow earlier this week regarding the plight of some clubs.
Mustafa, who also played for Dagenham and Redbridge, spoke of a recent conversation with Grays’ player/manager Mark Bentley where he learnt that the club had not received a penny after losing a key player.
He said: “Grays were expecting him to get a move into the Football League and planned on asking for a small contribution from the club he went to. Now they have lost him and do not have the funds to bring in a player of the same calibre.”
Mustafa added: “He (Bentley) said they had just lost their top striker to a club a couple of leagues higher because nothing was in place as in a contract.”
Grays chairman Andy Swallow highlighted the issue when he told the Thurrock Gazette he wanted a system where the club is guaranteed compensation if it loses a player to a bigger club.
Ex-fullback Mustafa reiterated Swallow’s call for greater protection when he said: “I believe non-league clubs should cap wages and have some sort of official contract in place with a sell on clause for talented players whom they think might move on.”
Lowering the expensive admission charges in non-league football was a factor he believes would bring in more supporters and raise the profile of the team. This could go towards combatting a complete collapse if the club ran into financial difficulties.
Mustafa was a prominent figure in non-league football, enjoying added spells at Kettering Town, Aldershot and Kingstonian.
He described the financial struggles he witnessed at different clubs he was playing for at the time.
He said: “I unfortunately had a bad experience at Hornchurch FC back in 2005 when the chairman declared himself bankrupt so couldn’t honour our contracts. I only got paid three months of a two year contract.”
Rushden and Diamonds was another club he saw fall victim to a struggling owner. He added: “We were reliant on the chairman Max Griggs who was the owner of Doc Martins. As his businesses suffered, the club went down.”
Former Brentwood Town manager Dean Holdsworth and his takeover deal at Bolton Wanderers was an example given by Mustafa when discussing the kind of ownership he feels is required in non-league football.
He said: “Similar to what Dean Holdsworth has just done, there needs to be a consortium type structure where clubs are funded by a group of people so if one pulls out the club is still stable.”
Mustafa is currently the boss of successful sports coaching company Sport4Fun. He leads a team of coaches around schools in Billericay and Wickford, helping children to develop their ability in a range of sports from football to handball.
His services to the sport means he remains on the lookout for young talent and passionate about the state of less privileged clubs. His familiar face and strong connections could set him up for a spot in the Non-League paper in the future- not as a player, but as a coach.