Take a deep breath and ……………. breathe.
It’s that time of the week when I look to provide an update on what is happening at the club and what we have planned, but it is genuinely very difficult to do that this week as there is now so much uncertainty as to what we will be able to do over the coming weeks and months. The recent Government announcement about the rulings and the tiers, I must be honest, has left us in a bit of a dilemma and more than ever we need to rally the troops and work together to get through these challenging times – mentally, physically and financially.
As I write these notes on Friday morning it very much looks as though we will be back playing football shortly, with crowds of up to 600, but no clubhouse open. That does make for a tricky situation, as I explained previously with some of the financial details, just the turnstiles opening does not pay for putting a football team out, the additional income that comes from the bar on a matchday and other events, is vital to the running of the club. How we budget for this scenario, with uncertainty as to how long it will last, is anyone’s guess.
We are fortunate to be blessed with some amazing supporters who have helped hugely in recent months, and I will again be pleading to your best nature when we do open the turnstiles – please encourage as many people as possible along to the games, and it is most likely we will look to organise some form of collection so that anyone who would like to make a donation to help cover the lost bar income is able to do so. Of course, it is not compulsory, but if you were able to throw in the few quid that you might otherwise have put over the bar, we would be most grateful.
When we do get to host matches again, let’s really get those turnstiles rattling and keep our fantastic turnstile operators busy. Again, these are people that are reliable assets of the club who may not always get the recognition they deserve. I have previously mentioned the years of commitment from George, but on the other turnstile we have Keith Pittman who is a tremendous volunteer for the club giving us so much of his time, and never wanting anything in return. Sometimes it is the little things that make such a difference, for example, who changes the fixture board at the bottom of the drive by the roundabout? That will also be Keith, a reliable and much appreciated volunteer.
In other news, our programme editor left this week, so we do have another void to fill there. We were looking at a gentle revamping of the publication during the lockdown and now we also need more support with contributing content and managing the layouts. At the moment this is currently falling to existing volunteers that already do so much, if this is something you would be interested in doing on a regular basis for the club, please do get in touch.
Back to the harsh realities of where we are at. These are very troubling times for the club, I am not going to lie about that. The Board and I have a clear vision for the club and the future direction of travel, but at this very moment in time there are a number of roadblocks in our way. I am confident we will get around them, but it is going to take a lot of hard work, some very careful planning and we will, more than ever, need a lot of support However, it is not all doom and gloom with a lot of positive work going on to grow the club. Now there is good news out there as well, the online shop goes from strength to strength and we have added extra goodies, such as ladies ware, kit bags, ruck sacks and some lovely winter coats amongst other items – a great place to visit when shopping for Christmas gifts, or compiling your own Christmas list to pass on to others! Check it out at cheshamunited.co.uk/shop. I am continuing to enjoy receiving the kit design ideas that have been coming in, please keep them coming, it is great to see people’s views and creativity.
On the subject of getting supporters’ views, we will today be putting out our club survey to enable you to give us your views on what is going on, and for us to understand more about our supporter base and what we can do to improve things. Please do take the time to give us your opinions, and sign-up for what will become a regular newsletter. This can be found at cheshamunited.co.uk/survey – the link will also be on our Facebook/Twitter pages shortly.
On the field I hope we will get clarification soon to all the questions that you must be asking:
How does it work when teams play between tiers? What happens to our Weston-Super-Mare game as they are in tier 3? The latest news as I understand it is that grassroots clubs in tier 3 cannot leave their area, or host clubs from other tiers, which must surely put our game in jeopardy.
How do other clubs feel about being able to play in front of crowds, but with no clubhouse income?
What is happening about the financial support package to football at this level? How do we access the loans or grants? What are the repayment terms? Is it putting clubs at financial risk if they borrow money that they will struggle to pay back? Don’t forget this is replacing lost income, it is not money that we will get in further down the line to make the repayments on a loan, so where does that money come from?
We are informed that the league has had an emergency board meeting today. There are two further meetings taking place today, along with a further meeting on Saturday involving the FA and leagues and therefore the League anticipates that it will be in a position to make a definitive statement early next week in respect to whether or not the season will be able to re-start as planned. It is noted however that the league has 16 clubs in Tier 3, 65 in Tier 2 and 1 in Tier 1 so a wide range of point of views to be considered.
One thing I can promise is that we will not be putting the club in any financial risk by borrowing money that we cannot repay. I am confident that myself, the board, and our many dedicated helpers, supporters and confidants will find better ways to ride this wave than take financial risks. We are a club that is lucky enough to have many great ideas and opportunities, our biggest challenge is to find the people that will help us to execute these plans. If you are one of those people that have often thought there are things you can do to help, but have not got around to stepping forward, please, now more than ever, is the time to take that step forward. You can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The managers regularly inform me that they and the players are working hard at fitness levels to be as best prepared as they can to take on the challenges offered to them and us on the pitch over the coming weeks and months. They will be providing a full update next week ahead of our friendly with Royston and I know that they will all hope to see as many supporters there as possible. We also currently plan to run a Zoom (or similar) ‘Virtual’ Meet The Managers on Monday evening, starting around 7pm – full information on that will be available over the weekend including details of how to join but in the meantime please send in your questions to email@example.com in advance.
Thank you for your support, stay safe, stay well and we will stay in touch.
Peter Brown, Chairman
Chesham United Football Club