I hope that everyone is doing all they can to keep themselves and their families safe through the lockdown.
It certainly looks like we will have to bear with it for the time being as whilst the spread of the virus is being contained at the moment, we need to continue to limit our social interactions in order to keep it from getting out of control.
This all points to the fact that the resumption of football may be a long time off yet. This is just something we will need to deal with as protecting lives is far more important.
The Club’s Community Help Initiative continues to provide a much-needed lifeline for many people in the community. We continue to shop, collect and support those that need help. We are now delivering hot meals twice a week as well as continuing with our food bank and free school meal deliveries. We are still welcoming new volunteers and our aim is to be able to provide help for as long as it is needed. Once again, I’d like to express my deep gratitude to everyone who is helping, including the volunteers on the frontline, and also the many others behind the scenes.
Just this week we have 144 volunteers out helping, 136 households being supported, 180 school lunches delivered per day, 80 food parcels being delivered this week and 203 hot meals going out. It has turned in to a significant operation, made all the more complex due to social distancing, but we have found a way to make it work efficiently and effectively. Thanks once again to everyone involved.
I am delighted to welcome a number of new shareholders to the Club. We have doubled the number of shareholders over the last month or so and we have sold out all available shares. This represents an investment of £25,000 into the club which is a hugely significant help to us during the shutdown. We are very grateful to everyone who has bought a share and I look forward to the next AGM which, if all shareholders turn up, we may need to hold on the pitch at Ochilview!! On a serious note, this is a magnificent investment into the club and will help us enormously during a period with no other football related income.
As a Club, we are pleased that the current season has ended, albeit we would have preferred for it to have been settled on the pitch. We again pass on our congratulations to Cove Rangers for winning League 2. They were every bit the worthy winners and deserve their success.
With the league concluded for this season, we can at least try to focus on next season. This is easier said than done when there are so many unknowns. It is impossible to even say when the next season will eventually kick off and if fans will be allowed to attend. All I can say is that we are doing everything we can to prepare whilst pressing the football authorities to provide guidance, support and direction where possible.
We have been quite vocal of late on a number of the issues facing football as we believe this is a time for clubs to make their views known and try to drive the agenda where possible. The survival of our Club is what is at stake, therefore we will do everything in our power to ensure that Stenhousemuir FC comes out of this in the best shape possible. Where we need to confront other ideas, we will, and where we need to find consensus we shall.
League reconstruction is a hot topic at the moment. There are a number of ideas circulating and many suggestions being put forward. This is to be welcomed. However, the SPFL as a body is resistant to change so I suspect that anything radical will be too much for many to even consider.
As it stands, League 2 clubs have agreed to go into discussions on reconstruction on the basis of supporting a new structure of three leagues of 14 clubs. Discussions are at an early stage so it is impossible to say with any certainty where they may go and what might be the final outcome and agreement, if indeed one can be found. However, there are representatives from League 2 clubs on the Reconstruction Working Group and I know they will do everything possible to try and get a good outcome for us all. There will be some clubs that will do ok out of reconstruction, but inevitably there will be others affected negatively. I haven’t seen a solution that avoids this. We can only do what we can to influence, argue and negotiate for the best outcome for as many clubs as possible.
Finally, a mention for our young community team players. We have loved seeing the photos as you’ve purchased your shares, and supported your club during these difficult times. We’ve also really enjoyed seeing you take part in the challenges and online tournaments that we’ve been organising. In particular, some of the outstanding goals scored in the ‘top bins’ challenge have certainly caught our eye.
We miss the interaction with our young players and I know the coaches in particular are looking forward to getting everyone back in for training when the time is right. The Club will be here waiting for that day to come. In the meantime, keep us updated with your goals, challenges, tricks and messages. I know that supporters from right around the world are enjoying them.
Stay healthy, stay safe, keep sticking to the Government advice, and keep our community spirit going.