GRAYS Athletic Football Club have been hit by a major financial crisis that has forced them to slash wages and allow any players who wish to leave, to do so.

On the day they were paired with lowly AFC Totton in the final FA Cup preliminary round, setting up the chance of a lucrative First round Proper tie, the club held an emergency board meeting announcing the drastic financial measures they have been forced to impose.

A statement said: “Following the financial situation that is affecting the country as a whole, Grays Athletic FC regretfully announces the following.

“The club’s three major sponsors have been forced to withdraw their financial support for the club and therefore some drastic economic cuts will have to be made.

“After an emergency board meeting the club’s directors have stated the following; “The general running costs involved in providing over night accommodation, transport and medical cover during the season will be greatly affected.

“Salaries paid to contract / non contract players and staff will have to be reduced, this would mean players’ salaries being cut by 50 per cent from now. The club would, however, seek to repay the deficit at times when funds are available.

“Players who are affected by the changes will be free to leave the club with immediate affect; however the club will make every effort to minimise the disruption to training and preparation for matches.”

The club’s controversial chairman Mike Woodward, who recently relinquished his dual role as team manager, said: “I have nothing to hide. The whole country and many businesses and football clubs are in a state of uncertainty, living beyond their means, not knowing where money is coming from to pay employees’ wages.

“The club are making the players, the Football Conference, the FA and the general public aware of the situation now rather than waiting until the end of the month when wages and bills may not be met.

“I can assure everyone that creditors have or will be paid in full by the end of the month and you can rest assured that Grays Athletic FC will fulfil all fixtures for the remainder of the season.”

In the FA Cup tie, to be played, on Saturday, October 25, Grays will be at home to AFC Totton, from Hampshire who play in the Southern League Division One South & West.