The Chairman’s New Year Update
Dave looks back at 2020 and discusses where we are now
We move into a New Year as the club has faced yet another weekend with no football action for you to enjoy even through the medium of a screen. It does seem opportune however for me to both review the last year and update as far as I can with where we are just at the moment.
Of course, we continue to have to play behind closed doors all the time Kent remains in Tier 4 and it was hardly any surprise when the announcement was made by the Health Minister on 30th December that we would be remaining in that Tier.
Indeed, with the Chancellor announcing a few weeks back the continuance of the furlough scheme right through to April, it is not out of the question that there could be another temporary halt to all football although the National League gives the impression of wanting to soldier on for as long as possible to reaffirm presumably our position in ‘elite’ football .
At this time there is still no definitive news regarding the distribution of the £11m funding to the National League via Sport England announced by the Government. The League have however confirmed that they will be pressing for this money to be in the form of grants. We can also confirm that we have received the £30k December instalment of the National Lottery grant that compensates for the loss of matchday revenue.
We think we can all agree that 2020 has been a rubbish year and for some people a tragic one. As far as football was concerned it was at times chaotic.
A sudden temporary but totally correct suspension of the 2019/20 campaign eventually turned into a permanent ending. For a long period during the summer there was no apparent plan as to when competition might resume and then with the National League clubs declared ‘elite’ we were allowed to start the 2020/21 campaign in October behind closed doors but with the guarantee of compensatory funding up until December courtesy of the National Lottery.
Perhaps often overlooked by the media is the complete financial loss to clubs of community events, ‘secondary spend’ by supporters at matches, and the hire out of facilities to third parties. It is this revenue that is often the lifeblood for clubs like ourselves and its loss continues to concern us as the pandemic carries on disrupting normal life.
Surprisingly, amidst all the genuine doom and gloom there have been genuine plus points for our club during 2020. A number of supporters became Owners such that membership now exceeds 300 with 40 of those taking out life membership.
The problems with the pitch last season have been well documented but once again supporters rallied round to come up with finance that allowed us to adopt Peter Elves suggestion of using pitch covers to protect our precious turf. These are now in full operation with grateful thanks to a team of helpers but the real win has been observing referees arriving at Longmead and not even having to inspect the pitch to see whether its playable.
We have now moved to electronic ticketing and on line purchasing of merchandise, ownerships, player sponsorships, and match streaming all through our retail portal ticketco. To be honest without the restrictions of Covd-19 these positive developments would probably have taken much longer to have been introduced.
We mentioned above live match streaming with professional commentary, an absolutely vital product all the time we have to play behind closed doors. It keeps people in touch with the club, provides vital revenue and along with our Twitter feed means that no Angels supporter needs to feel adrift from the club.
Most of our sponsors have continued their relationships with the club. Bearing in mind the difficulties and challenges that all businesses have experienced this has been absolutely amazing and we owe them all a great debt of gratitude. Also, it’s thanks to individual supporters who have provided sponsorships and donations throughout the year.
Despite the ‘Behind Closed Doors’ policy, we continue to have to fulfil 1st team fixtures whenever possible and in that respect whilst the players and staff quite rightly continued to be paid their salaries, we are dependent on a small number of volunteers to actually get the games on. I continue to be extremely grateful to those persons as without them working against the backdrop of a virus ‘out of control’, there would be even more postponements.
Finally, we should not forget the efforts of the players and management team who have given their all through 2020 with some outstanding results on the pitch. Yes of course there have been a few disappointing ones but you only have to see the genuine despondency on the players faces after such games to understand how much they always want to give for our club despite the strange and worrying circumstances they find themselves in.
A Happy and Very Safe 2021 to You All