Without the football on a Saturday afternoon it is starting to feel as though we have gone back to how it was over the summer – Juggling the finances and applying for grants whilst carefully watching the news for the latest guidelines and revelations. Fortunately, we are staying positive and there is so much going on at the club. Many of you will have seen the club statement the week before last regarding the discovery that one of our members of bar staff had been diagnosed with COVID-19 shortly after working at the Whyteleafe game. We are delighted to be able to update you that she is well on her way to recovery and is looking forward to welcoming everyone safely back into the Chess Suite after lockdown.
This week’s announcement about a fund of £14m for clubs at steps 3-6 of the pyramid is very much welcomed, though we have no idea what amount will be available, and it very much sounds as though it is likely to be a loan rather than a grant, so we will have to wait and see on that. And, of course, we still do not know what the financial support is there specifically to help with, if it is going to be part of asking clubs to play behind closed doors or in front of massively reduced gates, then I can’t see it working. However, if it is to compensate for other lost incomes and we are able to get back to playing in front of crowds as soon as possible, then that is very much a good thing.
There is much talk about the restart of the season and the FA competitions, but I guess the truth is it all very much depends on how and if we come out of lockdown on 2nd December, but we must plan ahead on the assumption that we will be back on the pitch, with the turnstiles open. As it stands at the moment our league season will start again on December 12th, but before that we will have the next round of the FA Trophy and a trip to Weston-Super-Mare on Tuesday 8th December. As you can imagine, a far from ideal scenario, but I can assure you that having spoken to the management our players will be fully up for this game and will use the adversity of a 133 mile midweek trip in the middle of winter as inspiration to go out and deliver a victory. The plan looks to have successive rounds of the FA Trophy very closely packed together in the lead up to Christmas, it seems others are more optimistic about the December weather forecast than me!
In the name of transparency, I must confess that we have not been successful in keeping the grounds gates completely shut this lockdown and have been having some unwanted animal visitors to the ground. A good spot by our ever-reliable and eagle-eyed Site Manager, Ray Trafford, noted that there is evidence of these animals coming into the club grounds in hunt of food – they will have left hungry though, with no food being left at the club. We are investing in getting rid of them in a humane manner and will also be looking to clear the grass banks around by the back of the players and officials’ car park to keep the place clean and healthy. Not ideal as this comes at a cost at a time when we still have no income into the business.
However, there is some good news on that front as our recent grant application has been accepted and we will be looking to push ahead with the installation and upgrade of lighting up the driveway and in the car park areas, the Supporters’ Trust have also agreed to contribute towards the installation. This should make us all feel much safer when we return to matches over the cold winter months. The previously mentioned survey should be distributed this weekend, please do take the time to give us your feedback; the information is important to help us to make sure we are understanding what is important to our supporters. We will also be asking your permission to use your contact details for newsletters and to send you these notes direct to your Inbox each week as well as sharing on the website and social media.
I know from feedback that many of you like the new Club Shop with our kit suppliers, in the first ten days we received over £500 worth of orders, this is going to be fantastic to help raise our profile around the town, as well as adding some colour to the terraces on a matchday. With the help of Gavin Jones, the offerings have been prevalent on the Chesham Life #SHOPLOCAL Facebook page, hopefully introducing the club and our merchandise to a wider audience.
The ‘Design a New Kit’ competition has really proved popular with many entries already received. Just remember the shirts are short sleeves when you send in your designs. At the end of the competition the designs will be short-listed, and you will see the final selection made for you, the fans, to have your opinions. The board will discuss at their next meeting the final rules for selection of the kit. We are aware of people being out there who collect shirts from all levels of football for its design and statement. One non-league club has sold an additional 800 shirts this season away from their usual fanbase which brings in a massive windfall for the club concerned, this shirt was its away shirt, so keep drawing and get your entries in, you never know it might be ours next year!
I am delighted that I was able to go out again this week delivering hot meals, supplied by The Black Horse to our community – a very humbling act that I also find most rewarding, it is important that we all do our bit to help those in need.
Finally, we are still looking at a new scoreboard and have 3 companies so far that will contribute to its cost, can anyone out there approach other companies for us? Let me know and I will talk with them.
Peter Brown, Chairman
Chesham United Football Club