Abbotsford youth soccer association faces $70,000 shortfall

Magnuson Ford Mariners Football Club will not shut down, says the group's vice-president.

Abbotsford’s youth soccer association has a deficit of more than $70,000, according to the Magnuson Ford Mariners Football Club’s 2012/13 year-end financial statement.

Dan Village, the club’s vice-president technical, said the executive of the association was aware there was a looming shortfall, but didn’t know just how large it was.

The club’s income for the soccer year was nearly $640,000, but total expenses were about $662,000, making for a net loss of about $22,000 for 2012/13. The statement also lists nearly $50,000 in outstanding accounts – making the total deficit $71,488.

The soccer association currently has about 1,600 to 1,700 players, on teams ranging from ages five to 18. The association is part of the Fraser Valley Youth Soccer Association.

Village said the Mariners FC recently saw a change in administration, with the resignation of its general manager. He added that a lack of a designated treasurer in the association led to some of the bookkeeping problems.

Of the nearly $50,000 in outstanding accounts, about $11,000 is owed to the City of Abbotsford for field fees, about $13,100 is listed under the former general manager’s MasterCard, $6,500 under the president’s MasterCard, and about $14,000 is owed to Soccer Express, a sports equipment supply company.

Village said all the spending is legitimate, but the financial issues arose from the association believing that bills had been paid which in fact hadn’t.

A former board member of the association, who left the position last week and did not wish to be publicly identified, stated in his letter of resignation that the club is “collecting fees and using that fee money to pay for their debt.” He is worried when the fall season starts there will not be enough money to run the season.

He told The News that in the last year, he repeatedly tried to get the association to make their financial statements available, but did not see complete documentation of spending.

In March, the soccer association had to refund tickets for its annual car lottery, following a complaint filed to the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. The club was investigated and a fine was issued for operating a lottery without a proper licence. The association is currently giving refunds to ticket holders, though Village said some people are instead donating the ticket cost to the association.

Last year, the club realized about $17,500 from the lottery. This year, about $12,000 had been generated that will have to be returned.

The former board member said he is concerned the deficit will fall on parents in the form of higher registration fees.

But Village said this won’t be the case. He explained that although the association raised its fees for the year, that is not intended to cover the deficit, but rather other growing costs, such as field fees.

“Fee increases aren’t going to cover (the deficit); we know that. That’s going to be taken care of through other fundraisers and cutting down on our own costs.”

Asked whether the organization will be able to run a soccer season in the fall, Village said the club will not shut down. He said they understand the deficit won’t be paid down in a year, and have been dealing with their biggest creditors – the city and Soccer Express – about how best to cover the shortfall.

Village said the association is also planning to rein in the number of paid coaches and is looking for volunteers to cover those positions.

Village hopes for a strong fall registration in order to move the club forward.