ANDREW Connolly's dream of making Rossendale United a force in non-league football has turned sour - but he insists the crisis-hit club will not go out of business.

The ambitious Stags owner has ploughed in £400,000 of his own money into the Dark Lane oufit since taking over the reins around five years ago.

But Connolly is not prepared to dip into his pocket any more under current circumstances, with the UniBond Division One club suffering from dwindling home attendances and a lack of interest from local backers.

UniBond neighbours Chorley were hit by a similar situation last year when owner Trevor Hemmings decided to stop bankrolling the Magpies.

The Stags' turmoil came to a head recently as players' wages were not paid for four successive weeks, a situation that prompted manager Derek Egan to decide to quit at the end of this season.

Many of the current playing staff are also expected to leave and club secretary Kevin Proctor is stepping down from his role in May following 10 years' service.

Despite Rossendale's problems, Connolly has reassured supporters that the club will not go under, but the businessman admits that proper running of the club from top to bottom' is badly needed.

"I can't go on putting in my own money," said Connolly. "I've spent £400,000 over the last five years.

"I've always said, the club can have the facilities and the clubhouse.

"They could play there for nothing, as long as it was not costing me any more money.

"But it's got to the stage over the last five or six weeks where I've had to pay the players' wages myself.

"Before this season, there was a chairman and a board, but now it's just down to me and it can't continue.

"It's a great little club. Everything is in place - we've never had a better manager and we've been playing good, attractive football.

"But we are not getting the crowds.

"But it's not just the gates. It needs, from top to bottom, a board of directors, business people who know what they are talking about.

"Derek Egan is doing a great job, but he rang to tell me where he's coming from and that's fair enough when the players were not being paid. I can't fault him for that."

Connolly spoke to United's players before last Saturday's league match against Eastwood - which attracted a lowly crowd of 111 - to put them in the picture.

He added: "We are still two or three weeks behind in the wages, but they are getting paid and whatever money they are owed will be caught up within the next week or two.

"But the club will not be going out of business.

"he wage bill will probably be 70 percent less than what it is now, but it will just mean having to play local lads."

Stags striker Phil Eastwood said: "We are all committed to Rossendale for the rest of the season.

"We've got a good changing room and everybody is in this together.

"There was a situation where we were not getting paid regularly, but we are now getting paid here and there.

"Some of the lads are students and this is their only source of income."