CHAIRMAN'S EASTER MESSAGE

I want to start this message by wishing everyone a Happy Easter.  It will certainly be a lot different to the ones I enjoyed as a child but according to Sky News the Easter Bunny has been given permission to work, which I am sure will please our youngest supporters.

These are certainly unprecedented times and whilst we don’t necessarily have the updates and answers our fans would want, we do appreciate that you are looking to the board for information.  As many of you will have seen in the national press there are discussions underway, around ending the season but it’s not simply a “Yes” or “No” vote.  Consideration has to be given as to what happens next.  Is the league voided, like the leagues below our own, or do we look for a way to define a final table and if so what about promotion and relegation?   If the league isn’t ended what does that mean with regards a restart date, player contracts etc.  Hopefully a decision will be made in the next week or so but one thing is for sure, there is still work to be done BEFORE a final decision can be made.

There has also been a lot of ‘news’ around payments being offered to clubs under the National League structure.  Numbers as high as £125m have been discussed but the reality is that funds of this volume are very unlikely to actually happen.  Instead the league are looking at bringing forward central payments that would have been made around September.  So at present, the only funds really being discussed are actually existing funds and not new ones.  What we receive now will simply be the funds we would have received - so come September that pot will be empty.  Whilst this money will be gratefully received, it means we will have to consider the impact on next season, albeit we don’t know when that would start.

The President’s Appeal, launched by Ken Samuel, has been a fantastic success and as you all know has raised in excess of £11,000 to date – which is a massive help and donations continue to be made.  But we need to accept that we had a number of high profile games moved from Saturdays to Tuesdays during the season, which resulted in lower gates and therefore lower revenue.  We had some high profile matches scheduled for the end of the season too, including a visit from high flying Kings Lynn and a home bank holiday fixture against Leamington.  The net result is simple; we have lost the opportunity to gain considerable revenues and we still have a gap between what we need to run the club and what we have saved, what has been raised and what has been provided from central funds.

 

The board have worked hard over the past 5 years to improve the club’s financial standing and we are proud of what has been achieved to date.  Our controls may have limited the size of our squad and meant ground improvements may have been slower than we’d all want but at the end of what has been a challenging year we’re still here and we’re still fighting.  Lets put things into context we exited the FA Cup (1st hurdle) and FA Trophy (2nd hurdle) - which was extremely painful.   We have likely lost the last six home games of the season (admission fees, bar sales, hospitality sales and sundries) and also potentially missed out on the Hillier Cup Final and without taking anything for granted the potential of a lucrative Maunsell Cup Final.  A year that started with such high hopes has ultimately presented challenges never seen before by the club.

So where do we go from here.

If we stand together then I am sure that we will get through this.  The importance of every donations made to the President’s Appeal should not be under estimated – and the club owes a great debt to Ken for organising it and for everyone who contributed.  We are looking at other schemes to raise additional funds but we’re also aware that times are hard and uncertain and we understand that people who would like to contribute can’t and that’s fine.   We also need to ensure that we don’t simply bring funds forward from next season, and simply delay a budgeting nightmare.  Our goal over the next month is to get the club to the end of the season and to understand where that leaves us.   We will then look at unused Season Tickets, along with the outstanding “3-4-2” matches and come up with a plan of action for each ticket type.  We will have to look at completing the ground improvements which were halted by the lockdown and ultimately the installation of the 250 seat stand and new terrace.  The board are not underestimating the challenges ahead of us but this pandemic is like nothing encountered before, so we will focus on one or two things at a time, whilst considering the wider picture.  This will take a lot of time and a lot of effort by a small group of people who also have their day jobs and families to think about and protect, but rest assured the board are up to the challenge.

We need you all the stay positive, to stay away from negative views and accept that everything we’re doing is for the good of the club.   We know that we won’t have answered every question in this update and we know that everyone will have an opinion of what should be happening but sadly many factors are simply outside of our initial control but we’re working together to get the result we want.  Sadly a number of clubs may not come out of the other side of this nightmare, we need to make sure that The Poppies are not one of them.

Lastly but by no means least I want to encourage every fan to stay isolated and to follow the governments lockdown and social distancing guidelines.  These are not only designed to protect you but also the wider community as well as the front line workers that are doing a fantastic job.

Please stay safe and try to enjoy the Easter weekend

David Mahoney

Chairman