Owner Clarke's investment into United nears £5 million mark

Joseph Bulmer

Owner/chairman Clarke Osborne's investment in Torquay United is believed to be approaching an unprecedented £5 million in the space of four-and-a-half years ahead of another bid to win promotion back to the Football League.

As manager Gary Johnson continues to line up signings, the latest balance-sheet reports that United, run through Osborne's Riviera Stadium Ltd and 'umbrella' Toklon companies, owed their main long-term creditor £4.2 million on June 30 last year.

Even with more Government 'Furlough' support, which helped to reduce the 2020 loss to £811,000 (£943,000 in 2019), Osborne will have pumped more money into the club over the past 12 months.

He indicated some time ago that he might review his investment around now, but he reaffirmed his commitment to taking United back into the EFL after the recent Play-Off Final defeat.

And Johnson confirmed that he would not have signed his new extended contract without assurances of continued backing.

Even with inflation, the figures surpasses the support of former owners Tony Boyce (1964-84), Mike Bateson (1990-2007) and Paul and Thea Bristow (2007-2015).

The current regime seldom comments on United's finances, but the magnitude of their investment is believed to be linked to Osborne's ongoing ambition to build a new stadium complex in the foreseeable future.

Shareholders will have a chance to quiz the board about the figures at the annual meeting on Friday July 23) which will be conducted 'remotely'.

Meanwhile, United have described season-ticket sales as a 'tremendous response', but without any figures, although they have clarified one point.

Plainmoor remains a 'cashless' stadium at the turnstiles, but matchday tickets will be available up to one hour before KOs.

Released trio Billy Waters (FC Halifax Town) and Josh Umerah and Matt Buse (both Wealdstone) have all joined NL rivals.

Goalkeeper Shaun MacDonald has been on trial with Dundee and ex-Gulls winger Kalvin Kalala with German club FSV Zwickau.

United will play a sixth friendly at home to AFC Bournemouth Under-23s (August 10), eleven days before the NL season kicks off on August 21 (Altrincham H).