This most unusual of seasons continues to throw out its challenges, although with every week that passes it becomes more and more obvious that we are very unlikely to see any competitive league football this season. A very sad situation as that is after all the reason why we are all passionate about the club and give so many hours of commitment to the cause – It is certainly not to make any money!
Finance and balancing the books has always been a fundamental part of running the football club, but the reward for that time and worry is seeing the team run out on a Saturday afternoon cheered on by a large crowd that are enjoying a day out with friends and family, buying a burger from Billy and sharing a few drinks in The Chess Suite. Then when that is all cleared, we have the Ladies and Youth section proudly representing the club through their various age groups and suddenly all the woes of the week seem worth it.
Without that regular morale boost everything seems more challenging and we must look for our rewards and satisfaction elsewhere and be very grateful for what we do have. Our health and well-being remain the most important. This week our own football family had another scare when Tanya Fisher, who many of you will know from her bubbly personality behind the bar in The Chess Suite, spent 36 hours in hospital with a health scare. Thankfully now she is well on her way to recovery.
It is also fitting that we add our well wishes to the family of former club Director Tony Laurenson who passed away recently. The family have asked for “donations not carnations” as they would prefer any kind contributions to be made to Stagehand, the PSA’s Benevolent and Welfare Fund. Tony was a founding member of the PSA, the largest trade association for people and companies involved in live production, and dedicated his career to looking after the crew. At a time when things have never been tougher for them, it seems fitting that those who would like to celebrate Tony’s life can do so by supporting those crew members who are really struggling right now. The Just Giving page can be found here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/donationsnotcarnations
For Chesham United, we have good cause to be cautiously optimistic about the future. The fact that football looks unlikely for the remainder of the season allows us to focus fully on the short and longer-term plans. The short term is, rather sadly, very much about minimising current costs with no income and budgeting for the next 18 months to get us through to the end of next season. I have been like a dog with a bone when it comes to grants and that has very much helped us to maintain a steady ship and eliminate any risk of the club going bust during this pandemic. I am currently in the process of answering questions and clarifying information that should see our latest grant application accepted.
This will be a massive boost and takes away any immediate concerns. The bigger issue is looking forward as we prepare our cashflow forecast for the next financial year with the very real possibility that sponsorship and season ticket income will be negligible, along with the reality that there will be additional refunds to pay out from this season. All this makes it very tough to produce a budget for next year, but it is something we are working on, and we are working on it with the intention of briefing the management team that we want to be serious contenders in the 2021/22 season promotion chase. That is exciting, and that gives us the energy to keep working through these strange times.
With this in mind, the Board has also taken the decision to keep the same kit for next season. With minimal usage it would seem unwise to discard the current kit, however, we still very much appreciate the entries to the design competition that we were running. We will definitely be keeping all the entries for future reference and we are also looking at the possibility of having a third kit for next season. We will be looking through the designs submitted to see if there are any suitable designs for this, or we may hang on to these for the future and go for something a bit more retro from the 1980’s – we will keep you posted.
More immediately, the challenges keep coming. This week’s drama has come in the form of a leaking roof in the club office which is a risk to the electrics to the bar, club shop and security cameras around the facilities so it is something we need to get remedied as quickly as possible. If there is anyone out there who can help us to raise the funds for fixing this, maybe setting up a GoFundMe page, it would be hugely appreciated as this is obviously not something currently budgeted for.
With regards to the clubhouse getting re-opened, I think we are looking at May realistically, and we hope to mark that with a youth 5-a-side tournament on the pitch and a soccer school during the half-term week at the end of the May. These are all things that we can start to plan and look forward to, in the hope that the vaccine rollout will begin to see us safely return to something closer to normality.
Stay safe, stay well