Cambridge United Supporters Panel have released a Q & A conducted with Cambridge United CEO Ian Mather, to provide U’s fans with the ongoing planning and work across the Club in relation to covid-19.
Are the players being tested regularly for Covid-19?
Yes, under the EFL return to training protocol, they have to be tested three times before we play any competitive match.
Who is paying for that testing?
The club is paying for the testing at a total cost of around £9,000. It is possible that more testing will be required through the season at additional cost.
When is the hope that we might be able to be back in the ground to see live matches?
The earliest date given by Government is 1 October 2020 and we are working hard to put measures in place to be ready for that date. It has to be recognised that this date could be pushed back. In the end, the level of Coronavirus in the population will be the determining factor. We of course look forward to welcoming supporters back as soon as it is safe to do so, but the decision of when this will be ultimately lies with the EFL and Government.
Are there any plans for iFollow to be provided for the fans?
Yes. The current plan is to make all games available to be viewed on iFollow. Our intention is to give free passes to season ticket holders for home and away games for the period that they cannot watch live. This is still under discussion with the EFL, who control iFollow. Fans without season tickets will be able to purchase a pass – probably at a cost of £10 per game. Given that fans are likely to watch the games in groups this cost seems reasonable. As far as the product itself is concerned, the live match stream will be similar to what supporters may have seen and experienced through iFollow in the past. The EFL are working with their suppliers to make this as reliable as possible. At the Club, our plans are well underway to produce plenty of exciting creative content around the live stream, across the Football Club’s online channels, to ensure our supporters can remained engaged, involved and are still able enjoy the matchday experience with us.
Can we as fans expect to be sitting in the same places as we usually do?
Probably not. Our aim is to get as many fans into the ground as we are can. This means making maximum use of people who are in “Covid bubbles”. If we can seat two, three or more people next to each other then we will fit more fans in. This may mean that some fans don’t get to sit or stand exactly where they are used to – but they will be in the same area.
Are the tea bars and bars going to be open when we come back?
We expect most if not all tea bars to be open, along with the Abbey Arms and the Premier Suite and Dublin Bar. We are still working on how to manage social distancing in the internal bars so this plan could change.
Are we going to have to be temperature checked or do track and trace before we can come into the ground?
Whether we test for temperature has yet to be decided. We will need contact details for all fans attending games for track and trace purposes.
Will we have away fans whilst there are restricted numbers?
Probably not. This is still under discussion with EFL but not having away fans would mean we have significantly more space for our fans as the South Stand could be allocated to home fans rather than, what is on average, a small number of away fans.
What is pre-season looking like?
We have some good-quality behind-closed-door friendlies lined up in the coming weeks. We will be announcing each of those to supporters shortly before each fixture takes place, and we will of course ensure our supporters are kept up to date with the match action across Cambridge United’s social media channels and Club website. Details will be released shortly when they have been confirmed with other clubs.
Are there other special arrangements at the training ground (eg food)?
There are a lot of special arrangements at the training ground. Players arrive individually and have temperature checks. Hand gel is freely available, the gym has moved outdoors, team discussions are outdoors, food (which is provided by the club) is eaten at the end of training whilst maintaining social distancing. Thanks to some helpful transport provided by sponsors 8Build, a lot of benches that were at the Abbey Arms are now at the training ground.
What are the plans for allocating tickets for home matches?
This will be decided finally when we have agreed what our capacity will be with the Local Authority Safety Advisory Group. Season ticket holders will be given priority.
How will practical things such as toileting and stewarding be affected?
We are likely to hire in portaloos to reduce the possibility of fans brushing past each other when going to the toilet. We may also need to manage queues for the loo.
Will the club shop be re-opening for people to visit?
This is currently to be decided. Gareth is working on his own in the shop and Lorraine is on furlough. The shop has done remarkably well with online sales since March, for which Gareth takes a lot of the credit. Credit should also go to our supporters for securing their shirts and merchandise in recent months, which continues to go a long way to helping the Football Club in the current circumstances. We hope to see this continue in the forthcoming weeks and months with further exciting announcements to follow in due course.
How will the salary cap affect the squad size/make up?
The cap won’t affect what we already had in plan. In common with many clubs, we will have a smaller squad than last season. That won’t stop us making good additions to the team as demonstrated by signings to date.
How does the news about the £1.5m budget affect our current wage bill?
We welcome a salary cap as it can only help ensure a more stable and sustainable future funding model in the lower leagues. At CUFC we are committed to a playing budget that is both prudent and competitive, and our existing salary bill for this season already falls within the £1.5m cap.
Following on from this point, are the Club's finances still in an acceptable position, and has Paul Barry indicated he is willing to underwrite any operating shortfall through the inevitable period of reduced attendances?
We have taken advantage of all the financial help that is available and, based on prudent assumptions, we believe we will be able to manage financially through the season. Paul remains totally committed to supporting the club.
Will there be any further information on how/when fans can use their five remaining tickets from last season?
Many season ticket holders took up the offer to use their five remaining tickets from last season to bring a friend to a game next season. This was really helpful from a financial point of view but it will also help us to build our fan base. When the tickets can be used will depend on when we can have crowds back and the capacity that we are allowed fit into the Abbey.
If you have a question you wish to ask the Club, then head to the CUSP website by clicking here now.