Angels try to make sense of an impossible situation
Preservation of the club must be the overriding aim
On Monday(08.02.21.) the Board of Tonbridge Angels met to discuss and to try and unravel the very serious situation in which the club now finds itself.
With no money coming in since December, and wages and overheads still to pay out, the club will find itself insolvent by the end of the month. The National League has been informed of this fact.
The only clear direction would seem to be to bring the campaign to an end. This would allow players to be furloughed but even so there would still be a challenge to meet overheads such as utilities etc. The only way suspension of the competition can happen would appear to be if enough clubs vote for that to occur although that outcome is by no means certain.
If the vote goes in favour of continuing the competition then under league rules we have to carry on playing. Some clubs have threatened to stop playing - indeed some didn't fulfil fixtures last Saturday (6/2) - but, disgracefully, the National League warned clubs who refused to play that they would impose sanctions despite the dire financial situation that they, the clubs, find themselves in.
How would Tonbridge Angels carry on playing? We would be forced to SEVERELY cut the playing budget, place those 1st team players who couldn't manage that financial restriction on to furlough, and basically play 'scratch' sides. If there is no relegation from National North and South there would be nothing to lose. That however begs another question for which we are still waiting an answer. The FA needs to decide whether the Northern Premier, Southern and Isthmian Leagues are going to be declared null and void for this season which would mean no promotion from Step 3 to Step 2 and therefore no relegation from Step 2 to Step 3. Despite the logic of deliberately playing a weakened side to see out the 2020/21 season, there is again a question as to whether this would be against league rules. There has been no additional guidance from the National League over this.
Should Tonbridge Angels engage with Sport England and seek a loan or grant? This has been sold by the National League as some kind of panacea to all the troubles in which its clubs find themselves. It isn't. We have obtained the details and basically you can apply for a realistic sum of money to cover financial shortfall, but there is no guarantee of what you will actually receive which makes budgeting impossible. Also it is not clear whether the money will be in the form of a grant or a loan. It is likely that the majority of awards will be in the form of loans. In terms of timescale clubs only have until this Friday(12/02) to submit the application, at the same time as not knowing the result of the vote, or the outcome of the leagues below both of which have a huge bearing on how we take things forward. To be clear, the Board doesn't want to take on a loan and the Owners don't want to, but in a limited way there may be no other option. Interestingly, there is a suggestion that in fact we might in breach of league regulations if we take on a loan - again, as so often with National League there is no advice or guidance on this,
Safety - Covid 19 rates of infection are thankfully reducing but the threat is very definitely still out there. As some sort of gesture the NL are offering free testing kits but only for players and coaches but nothing for volunteers without whom games at many clubs would not be able to take place. Don't be misled by this offer. The test kits provided on the admission of the National League itself are not wholly reliable and are not recognised by the National League as sufficient to have a game postponed. As far as Kent is concerned it is perfectly possible to obtain one of the aforesaid tests completely free of charge. As Chairman Dave Netherstreet said "Its a bit like giving sticking plaster to the passengers on The Titanic and saying don't worry it will be OK, and by the way don't worry about that iceberg you can see".
- We are still waiting for two crucial decisions - The vote of National League clubs on deciding the fate of the season and the situation for the three leagues below us.
- We will do all we can to ensure our position in National League for next season - The club's future prosperity and success is bound up in that pre-requisite. We do not want all the fine work that Steve, Barry, coaches and players have done for all that to go to waste
- The current Board are only the caretakers of this club, we wish to ensure there is a club to handover to our successors and for owners, supporters and the community of the future to enjoy