CHAIRMAN Paul Wallace has confirmed AFC Totton’s players are owed wages by the club.

The Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division outfit had been doing their best to deal with their financial problems in-house.

But, bizarrely, Gosport Borough boss Alex Pike mentioned the situation following his side’s 3-2 Easter Monday defeat at the Testwood Stadium.

During a post-match radio interview, Pike spoke of his admiration for AFC Totton and their manager Steve Riley in light of what was happening behind the scenes.

He said there had been a “massive (Totton) players’ meeting” before the game and that it “looked like they were going on strike at one stage because they hadn’t been paid for 12 weeks.”

Pike’s comments left the club with no option but to come clean about their problems with chairman Wallace confirming in a statement that “squad wages have been delayed.”

But he also confirmed that the Stags – currently operated as a members’ club – are in talks with potential outside investors “with a view to moving the club forward.” Wallace took over as Totton chairman on a caretaker basis in March last year before taking on the role permanently in September.

Admitting the club is, like many others, “struggling to hold things together financially”, he said one of Totton’s biggest financial burdens had been the increased running costs at their new Testwood Stadium home which they moved into just over two years ago.

For the first year ground developers Linden Homes helped towards some of the utility bills as part of the deal that saw them purchase Totton’s old Testwood Park base and build them a new £2.9 million facility in Salisbury Road.

But, according to Wallace, it is only in the last year that the Stags have discovered the true cost of running the new ground. The full club statement said: “Similar to other non-league/semi-professional football clubs, AFC have been struggling to hold things together financially. “The move to the new stadium has brought with it additional cost. This, coupled with the current wage bill, is a burden that has been building for some time and was masked somewhat by last year’s FA Cup run. “Postponement of games plus lack of major sponsorship has severely impacted on cash flow this season and highlighted an unsustainable financial impact, which has meant squad wages have been delayed. “The players and management have been exceptionally flexible and supportive during this time, whilst all avenues were explored to resolve the issues, for which the club are extremely grateful. “The club are now in discussions with potential outside investors, with a view to moving the club forward. “A special general meeting of club members is hereby announced for Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm, in the Monarch Suite, Testwood Stadium.”

Pike’s on-air comments did not go down well with Wallace.

It was not so long ago that Gosport themselves fell behind with players’ wages – a situation that was quickly remedied – and Wallace said: “I’d like to thank Alex Pike for sticking his oar into our financial business.

“I’d like to think he’d have been similarly grateful had Steve Riley and I commented on the financial situation at Gosport.

“He should stick to running Gosport and leave AFC Totton to the people who care about the club.”