I wanted to provide another update following the events this week related to the Coronavirus.
We have now had the UEFA meeting, as well as an SPFL meeting that I took part in by video call. Unfortunately, as has been widely reported, these meetings were unable to provide much clarity around the issues facing football. My own opinion, is that we won’t be playing any more 1st team football this season. How this will affect the league standings in terms of promotion, relegation or the status quo is anyone’s guess. There are of course some important factors to consider, particularly in terms of the TV deals and how declaring the league could affect this. But I do think that the more the current pandemic worsens, talk of winning championships becomes come less relevant.
As regards the football club, as mentioned in my last update, the situation is perilous, particularly financially. Our ability to generate income has been seriously curtailed. We do however still have the majority of costs. A huge part of our expenditure is related to jobs. We have taken the decision to explore every avenue that avoids redundancies or job losses. There have been various announcements from Government about potential funds available. We need to explore all of these and take advantage if we can. However, we will still need to reduce our expenditure. Staff hours, wages and time may still be affected, and this is deeply disappointing. We are in a situation that none of us could have planned for. But, we are in it together, as a unified club, and we will support and help each other as much as we can to get through it. All staff have been nothing short of fantastic during this crisis. No job has been too big or small and all are helping in ways above and beyond their normal duties. They rightly deserve our thanks.
Players remain under contract but we will not be asking them to report for training. Their health is more important. We are currently talking to them about where we go from here but we await further information from the football authorities or a direction of travel regarding the remainder of the season.
We are currently developing ways to continue our community programme. Initially, this may be online, and we are looking at staging live draws and online FIFA game tournaments, goal of the week, keepy-up challenges etc. We are also talking to Government about getting kids back in when the time is right to help parents get back to work. There is a role for football in getting the nation moving again and we will be at the front. All community participants will be able to access to our online activities, and priority will be given to attending our classes once we get back up and running. I am writing out today to all parents, guardians and carers of our young people in our programmes to make them aware of our plans.
We have had a number of people get in touch to offer us support, and many offering financial help. This is all very much appreciated. Every bit helps. It will be the support of our staff and supporters that will get us through the challenges we face.
Our Community Help Initiative is in full swing. We now have over 60 volunteers and many of them are paired up with people needing some help. ASDA has been supportive and is helping us get in to access the items we need for the people we are supporting. We are picking up shopping, running errands, and just being there for people in the community. We may face a prolonged period where we are being asked to socially distance. We are committed to continuing to support the elderly and vulnerable in our community for as long as it takes.
I aim to provide updates on a regular basis to keep everyone up to date. The most important message right now is to heed the advice from our Governments and health officials. Stay at home as much as you can. Help others. Stay safe and healthy.