Club update from Chairman, Dave Netherstreet
Here is a look back on a challenging 7 month period and a peep into the future,
TAFC CHAIRMAN’S REPORT OCTOBER 2020
Thank you for taking the time to read this
I thought that it was necessary to update you on what has been happening, and how the club is coping without spectators and the loss of revenue from events.
When the lockdown occurred in March the initial thought was that the old season would finish and the new season start on time. The Board started to plan and financial cutbacks made; we were fortunate that the playing and management squad fully understood what the implications were and the furlough scheme was implemented.
Within the club as we are volunteer run our major effort was to cut all of our outgoings so conversations took place with our suppliers and agreement made for the staged financial payments of debts.
Refunds of deposits were made for events that had been booked, such as the garden show, parties and wedding receptions.
It soon became obvious that the hope of an early return to some form of normality was not going to happen and there was a great deal of consternation as to how the club was going to survive. I did not want to touch the money that had been donated to the club for the pitch covers nor the 12th Man Fund but it was looking as though this money might have to be utilised.
It was at this time when the rate grant from the government via Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council was offered. It amounted to the sum of £25,000 and this was the moment when I saw hope of survival provided the club’s expenditure was carefully managed. Other grants began to become available from the FA which were taken advantage of and have seen us through to where we are now.
The club has been classified as elite and is therefore required to follow the same protocols and procedures as fulltime professional clubs. How did this come about? It was all to do with the play offs in the National League last season which were funded by the Premier League. The result is that under the Covid-19 restrictions and protocols spectators are not permitted to attend games.
The elite status and protocols has led to changes, the club now has a club doctor, the capacity of the stadium has been recalculated for when supporters are allowed back under the Covid 19 restrictions, there is provision of new signage for social distancing, installation of hand sanitisers, introduction of electronic ticketing to limit the amount of cash taken on matchdays and to allow track and trace, and there is also the live streaming of matches.
When the teams in the leagues below ours were permitted to start playing matches in front of a limited number of supporters it was anticipated that we would soon follow but this was not the case as we now know.
The club was informed that we would commence playing cup and league matches at the beginning of October and that to enable this to occur a grant was to be paid to clubs. There was a lot of speculation as to how it was to be calculated and information had to be provided to the National League regarding the club’s finances. The club has just been notified that it will receive a monthly sum of £30,000 a month for three months. This amount is a sum which will enable the club to carry on playing through to the New Year. The delay in agreeing the sum, was because the money has been provided from the National Lottery fund and the distribution of all such fund money is controlled by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. As with all grant money there are procedures that have to be followed.
The club is very grateful for the grant.
The club has agreed the purchase of a set of pitch covers an these should be delivered and ready for use in the next couple of weeks. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the fund.
The building work has started to construct the Upz and Downz building which is programmed to be finished in the first half of the New Year. It will also include offices for the club to use.
We have also linked up with Tonbridge Baptist Church and have provided the marquee and training ground to allow their children’s groups to meet up in socially distanced gatherings.
It has been a challenging time to keep the club on an even keel. It has been achieved not only by planning and a lot of hard work but also with the messages of support and financial donations that the Board has had which have been the bedrock that has kept us going. We thank you for unfailing loyalty
There will always be detractors and there will also be things that we do wrong but we do try our best and your support is greatly appreciated.
And finally, some of our owners and fans have passed away and our thoughts are with their families and friends and we hope to be able to hold an event to properly say our goodbyes.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this. Unfortunately, there is no sign at present that supporters will be allowed back into the ground anytime soon. Please stay safe and comply with the safety advice.