GRAYS Athletic face an uncertain future after the withdrawal of the club's three major sponsors.

The Blue Square Premier Division side have been forced to slash wages by 50 per cent and will not stand in the way of any players who wish to leave after the backers pulled out their financial support.

Faced with dwindling crowds and struggling near the foot of the table, Grays' directors held an emergency board meeting before announcing drastic measures to keep the club afloat.

A statement posted on the club's official website on Monday outlined the gravity of the situation: "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."

Non-contract players have been released with immediate effect.

Controversial chairman Mike Woodward, who has been frustrated in his efforts to find the club a new home and relinquished his dual role as team manager last month, insisted the club will survive.

He 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."

*GRAYS have been drawn against Southern League Division One South and West minnows AFC Totton in the FA Cup fourth qualifying round.