Pertemps Bees have expressed their confidence they can avert the player strike that is hanging over their National One fixture with Coventry but revealed that financial difficulties had forced them to make their former director of rugby, Phil Maynard redundant.
As things stand at Sharmans Cross Road their 30-man playing squad have not been paid for this month — their cheques were due on December 9 — and after a meeting with club officials on Tuesday night the players have refused to train but agreed to fulfil the obligation of this weekend’s game with Sedgley Park.
The Post understands, however, the players have also told their employers they will consider pulling out of the match with Coventry — due to be played on Boxing Day — if they do not receive their salaries early next week.
But chairman Nick Mennell last night voiced his optimism an agreement can be reached within the next few days. "I am confident that situation will not happen," Mennell said.
"The rugby side of our business is as good as it has ever been but we have not met our income requirements this season. We have monies coming in for January so it is a cash flow situation rather than a budgetary thing."
If Bees, the only team in the First Division without a shirt sponsor, do not put out a team against their local rivals they could be docked league points, clouding an encouraging start to the season that has seen them rise to within touching distance of the top six.
Maynard, who joined the club in 2002, has not been part of that, instead he stepped back from the playing side in the summer and was made director of sport, responsible for overseeing the development of Portway and the establishment of the academy with South Birmingham College.
But according to Mennell the Bees have had to reduce expenditure: "We have had to make some extra cuts and the first casualty was Phil Maynard," he confirmed.
"He has been a great servant to the club and a clubman through and through but the director of sport post was a luxury we could no longer carry.
"It is extremely unfortunate because he was totally dedicated to the job and it was a very difficult decision to make — one we would not wish to repeat."
Mennell added that although the situation was under constant review he did not expect any more redundancies.
Maynard’s departure ends the most successful period in Bees’ history. After a promising first year in charge in 2004 the former Worcester and Stourbridge coach guided the Solihull side to a victory over London Wasps and the semi-finals of the Powergen Cup as well as a club record fourth in National One.
Their on-pitch success was never mirrored off it, though and they have struggled to attract supporters to Sharmans Cross Road despite playing some of the best rugby by any semi-professional side.
Attendances have been disappointingly low and have forced the club to acknowledge their future lies with a move away from Sharmans Cross.