Following the recent suspension of the Southern Premier League schedule, the club has been working on contingency planning in what is an unprecedented period for everyone. Along with many other businesses and organisations, the current pandemic have put us into a serious financial situation. As a club, we need your help to get through this. In line with the government’s recommendations, we have closed all club facilities and activities with the exception of the onsite pre-school who will continue to use our facilities as they have a commitment to provide care for the children of essential workers. We plead with you all to follow the social distancing advice from the government and to sensibly follow any official advice to give yourself the best chance of not becoming ill from this dreadful disease.
On Friday, the league informed us that our league has been suspended with a strong expectation that this will be extended until at least the 30th April and that they will be making a decision over the coming weeks as to what happens with concluding the 2019/20 season. We will of course, keep our supporters updated as soon as league decisions are confirmed.
As it stands, the board strongly believe that there is very little chance of the Southern League restarting for at least the next 12 weeks. Because of this, we have made the decision to start preparations for the next season (or game), by starting our normal end of season pitch maintenance in the next few days with the reseeding of the pitch in what will be the ideal growing season.
The 2019/20 season to date has been one of our most successful seasons, in every aspect, for the last eight years and we wish to thank the players, managers and the coaching staff for the outstanding success on the pitch, as well as our loyal band of volunteers, the bar staff and especially you, the fans, for supporting all the efforts involved. We sit second in the table, having reached the League Cup Final for the first time in recent memory and with a thriving academy, record season ticket sales and gates at their highest levels in many a year. It was primed to be an outstanding, successful year, both on and off the pitch, which for the moment has been put on hold by a global and national disaster beyond our control.
What remains in our control is how we respond as a club (both as a board and as supporters) to minimise the negative consequences – and fans and supporters are the essential component to allowing the club to continue to grow and succeed when football restarts. The board have been working to understand the severe financial implications that are coming to our club and our unavoidable upcoming financial commitment. We closed the club down, including the Chess Suite, have cancelled our main fundraising event The Sportsman Dinner which was due to be announced last week and be held on 23rd April with former Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson, as well as the other booked events that were to be held on the pitch and in the club house. Understandably, this has left us with a large financial shortfall.
We are constantly monitoring our expenditure to make as many savings as possible on a daily basis but there is no doubt that these commitments will leave us with a significant deficit over the coming months until football restarts. This week, we have completed and submitted a financial income and expenditure report to the Southern League and we hope that some financial support will be available either through them or the FA & Premier League to help us, and every other Non-League club through these incredibly tough times. We are also exploring other avenues for financial help.
In order to reduce the deficit, we will be releasing our 2020/21 season ticket and commercial packages as planned at the end of this month. We do realise that this is a difficult time for each and every one of you and will be for some considerable time as this is an evolving pandemic with details changing on a daily basis. We hope that where possible our supporters and sponsors can renew, if they have the means as a way of helping your club through this dire financial crisis. Supporting the club’s survival is something that will have a positive impact on many people’s lives and provides hope in these dark times for the town, the sport and all of us who are committed to continuing success after this crisis ends.
We look forward to welcoming and seeing you all back at the Meadow as the government determines it is safe for us to start to return to normal! Our fans and supporters are the most important people to us – now and always. Please help us ride out the storm and get back on track for the future.