Head Coach Mark Bonner provides supporters a final update from the football department, before the Club moves into a hibernation phase with the furloughing of staff.
The news that the club is entering a hibernation mode is a sensible solution to a difficult situation, and is in line with many businesses around the country, including many football clubs. This Club is in good hands, with committed and intelligent people leading us.
From a first team perspective, we now continue to follow government guidelines to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives, and therefore are in much the same position as many of you. Everyone has spent more time than ever on a host of online apps, watched most films on Netflix, completed jobs around the house and joined the nation in daily exercise. Life has slowed down. Having spoken to the players, staff and many supporters over the past few weeks, the feeling of uncertainty and anxiety are understandable.
As the season break seems to be a prolonged period of time, this current moment is now taking the shape of an ‘off-season’ for the players. Maintaining appropriate fitness levels in line with match day levels is not possible without the group training required. Therefore, whilst players are responsible for maintaining fitness, strength and well-being, we accept that a mini pre-season training programme will be required before we complete the final nine games of this season, which will need to be considered in line with the Club’s reintroduction of staff after the forthcoming furloughed period.
The football authorities in the professional game continue to be guided by the government as they seek the solutions for the completion of this season and the start of the next, and whilst they go through this period, we wait patiently for the outcome. We will be flexible and adapt as required to the inevitable challenges that will present when we return.
As the landscape of professional football changes, the implications of the pandemic in the EFL and the wider economy will be long lasting and will have consequences that change not only the football calendar next season, but perhaps other areas in the future. The introduction of squad limits, player quotas and wage caps are just three areas that may surface or be discussed in the coming months.
Despite all the uncertainty, we will ensure that we are as best prepared as possible to deal with these challenges head on, and whatever the resources, time pressures and implications are, you will have a football team to support and we want you to be proud of that team. One thing I am certain of, is that we have a group of staff across the club that will work tirelessly and push the boundaries to make this possible. They will do this when safe, sensible and possible to do so. We will return to work, prepared, focussed and energised to get the job done.
I have been so impressed by the work of our Community Trust and the commitment of the staff and volunteers. It goes to show that football clubs do exist for more than just Saturday afternoon. From answering calls, phoning supporters, shopping, collecting medication, and cooking, to delivering food to those in need, leading online fitness sessions, and supporting with home schooling with informative, educational and engaging content. We should be grateful and proud of this work and the hundreds involved in creating strong community.
Whilst the majority of the football club goes into hibernation, the Here for U’s campaign is active, open and available for anyone who needs emotional, physical and practical support. Call them on 01223 632 129 if require any sort of help or you simply need someone to talk to.
You will have seen the early availability of season tickets for 20/21 season, and as has been widely reported, anyone who is able to purchase these during this two week window will be helping the Club through this particularly challenging time. I have spoken to many supporters on the phones who have suggested this early purchase of tickets to support the Club, and your help is vital. For those who cannot do this now, they’ll be back on sale when more clarity is available to us all and your support will be as well received as ever.
This is a challenge for everyone, and it’s a challenge for our Club too. But we have overcome so many of those in the past. Challenges on the pitch are part of the game, and we will face many of these together in the future. This Club has always stood firm throughout many eras; be it the sale of the stadium, administration, relegation, the bridge the gap campaign among others. This is another test for us all, and with strong leadership, togetherness and spirit, we will come through it together and put ourselves back to a position of enjoying our 50th year since being elected to the Football League when next season comes around.
The longer this period extends, the more difficult and challenging it will be for everyone. Keep supporting each other, look after your own well-being, get talking and know that this wonderful Football Club we support will return soon, ready to give you the all the highs and lows that live sport provides.
We’ll be back after the break. We are United!
United in Endeavour