THE season of goodwill might have been two months ago but Weymouth appear very much still in the moment.

Their pledge to help rescue Torquay United from the jaws of ruin has gone down extremely well with the non-League family.

On Thursday, the Gulls signalled their intention to file for administration after owner Clarke Osborne quit as chairman and put the club up for sale.

Osborne is rumoured to have committed more than £5m at Plainmoor and dreamt of building a new stadium, although he will now walk away.

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Gary Johnson’s six-year tenure as manager came to an abrupt end hours later, ending the feverish clamour from Torquay fans for his resignation after below-par results in the league.

Then came Weymouth’s extraordinary offer at the weekend.

For every adult away ticket sold for their home match with Torquay on Saturday, the Terras will donate £5 of the proceeds to the Torquay United Supporters’ Trust (TUST).

From an allocation of 1,800 it means Weymouth could potentially gift TUST up to £9,000.

However, that figure is unlikely to be the true amount.

It would mean no children present in the away end and would of course need Torquay to fill out the away end, so Weymouth will in all likelihood commit fewer than £9,000 to their pledge.

The Terras are also organising donation pots at the game and have produced 'We Stand Together' badges to further raise cash for the Gulls.

Weymouth will argue, correctly so, that they are helping to protect a huge non-League team that benefits and adds prestige to the National League System.

Football clubs are more than vessels for playing football, they are some fans' way of life and a gateway to friendships, creating memories past and present.

However, while the move was universally heralded as an incredible and generous offer, could it be too generous?

Weymouth have undoubtedly gained a huge amount of positive publicity from the move, at the time of writing generating more than 150,000 views on X and sparking dozens of news articles.

While they have firmly positioned themselves in the non-League family and received new-found respect, from Torquay’s and indeed their own fanbase, the offer has raised a few eyebrows upon closer inspection.

Weymouth’s current playing budget is one of the sticking points.

The Terras have for a number of weeks now only been able to finance deals for loan players, and inexperienced ones at that.

Manager Bobby Wilkinson has worked wonders in bringing quality strikers Harry Parsons, Mal Linton and Alfie Rutherford to the club, while highly-rated defender Corey Panter has also followed after the departure of the impressive Joe Cook.

Yet, to help finance those deals, there have been two players sold this season in Matty Burrows and Harvey Slade, while young loanees Naz Bakrin and Harry Jones have so far been sparingly used.

Realists in the Bob Lucas Stadium crowd have reasoned that Weymouth’s generous pledge to Torquay could in fact have helped the Terras themselves as they look to climb up the National League South table from 17th.

Wilkinson light-heartedly went on the record regarding the matter, all tongue-in-cheek, following the 3-3 draw with St Albans in midweek.

He has already publicly left the door open for Torquay striker Brad Ash to come back to Weymouth in the future, but the expected absence for family reasons of midfielder Olu Durojaiye does leave the Terras short in midfield options.

Dorset Echo: Weymouth lost 3-1 at Torquay United earlier this seasonWeymouth lost 3-1 at Torquay United earlier this season (Image: MARK PROBIN)

So, would the Weymouth manager be able to dip into the player market for extra cover?

“Not at the moment. I’ve got no money, have I?” he joked to Echosport.

“We’re giving it to Torquay this week, so I’ll let them have it! No, listen, I’m a manager that works my (backside) off.

“I’ll keep trying to bring (on) these youngsters. For where we are in the league, it’s unbelievable with such a young squad. We’re doing a fantastic job.”

Echosport understands Wilkinson still has wriggle room to bring in players but his humorous quotes do hint at potential dismay at the board’s decision to gift what is likely to be a healthy four-figure sum to a league rival.

However, Weymouth will hope to balance the offer with extra money raised by Torquay’s bumper travelling support in the sales of food, drink and other matchday revenue.

Hopes of selling out the away end have also been boosted by a Torquay fan group named the ‘Tom Lapslie Appreciation Society’ (TLAS).

Weymouth have already sold a chunk of tickets to TLAS, who are in turn offering “a number” of them for free to Gulls fans who otherwise might not be able to attend.

Echosport understands Torquay yesterday paid their players. Whether or not the rapidly-raised £7,000 from supporter donations funded the pay packets directly is unknown.

But the depth and breadth of support shown to Torquay by their fans again raises the question of whether Weymouth’s vow of further donations was necessary.

It may well have been too generous for a club the size of Torquay, whose plight has predictably generated plenty of interest from across the footballing spectrum and whose home attendances and catchment area dwarf that of Weymouth’s.

That interest has translated into healthy donations and an encouraging level of serious activity as the Gulls are courted by prospective new owners.

So much so, that Torquay have this week already issued several non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to interested parties.

Torbay MP Kevin Foster has also met with Torbay Council leaders and TUST chiefs to help safeguard the Gulls’ future.

Plainmoor will remain under the council’s ownership and cannot be used as collateral in any deal.

Dorset Echo: Bobby Wilkinson questioned where similar support for Weymouth was back in 2022Bobby Wilkinson questioned where similar support for Weymouth was back in 2022 (Image: MARK PROBIN)

Foster has also promised to raise awareness of Torquay’s plight in Parliament, given the opportunity. It seems the Gulls are being looked after in high circles.

Weymouth fans will of course have short memories when it comes to such financial strife.

No fewer than 18 months ago Weymouth were plunged into the same sort of emergency.

Yet, as a minority of fans have pointed out, where was the footballing community in Weymouth’s time of need?

The answer? Hiding in plain sight, to be brutally honest.

The moral question also prompted Wilkinson to say: “I just wish people had helped us out at the time.

“This club is tight-knitted and together. I cried out for a lot of help from other clubs last year and no-one really helped us.

“But, we didn’t want to be like anyone else. We wanted to be who we are, good people.

“Because we’ve gone there and been through all those difficult times, we don’t want to see anyone going through the difficult times.

“If we can be a part of trying to help and can look ourselves in the mirror knowing we did something right for a club, that’s what we’re going to do.

“I just hope everyone takes note of this.”

Weymouth is undoubtedly run by good people and this gesture will not be forgotten for a long time by teams in the National League South and of course not least by Torquay.

And it speaks volumes for the Terras’ recovery that they can now afford to donate such a significant amount to a fellow club in need.

There are still many hurdles for Torquay to overcome, especially with the cloud of a potential 10-point deduction looming over them.

Any such penalty would see them drop beneath Weymouth in the National League South standings.

The table is also a further area of consideration.

Right now, Weymouth are safe (just about) and realistically require a total in the low fifties to consolidate their position for the 2024/25 campaign.

They are also just seven points away, with 12 matches remaining, from beating last year’s tally of 48, which was enough to keep them up on goal difference.

So, the numbers are stacking in their favour as we enter the business end of the season.

Therefore, forgive us as we play devil’s advocate for a moment.

If the Terras begin to fall into the clutches of a relegation scrap, Weymouth’s board will have serious questions to answer.

Imagine the derision from supporters if the money used to help Torquay could actually have been used to bolster Weymouth’s squad before the final deadline for player registration on March 31.

Further still, imagine if Torquay received a points deduction and had used the money to leapfrog Weymouth into safety. A more bitter pill to swallow Weymouth fans could not comprehend.

While unquestionably generous, Weymouth’s pledge to Torquay could actually more accurately be labelled as a calculated risk.

It’s the sort of gamble you might take with gifting a present at Christmas or a special treat for someone in need.

Will it be reciprocated one day? Who knows? Weymouth fans will hope there is no need.

All the Terras’ faithful will be expecting is that their season of goodwill does not end up costing them dearly on the pitch.