It has been a couple of weeks since our last bulletin, not a deliberate choice but the consequence of a lot going on off the field and not much news to report.
Obviously the season has now started and the team made a cracking start with three straight wins and how disappointing was it to lose in the last 30 seconds against Notts County. We now face a brief lay-off until the FA Cup tie at home to Bromley, which will at least give two or three players a chance to recover from some minor knocks.
The season only began after the League and FA received assurances from the Government of a support package to recompense for lost gate receipts, but at the time of writing we have no further details of when and how this money might be distributed to the clubs.
We are pleased with the way the arrangements and careful planning went for our two home games so far, there were a few things we can do better and we will learn from those as we strive to make our stadium as safe as possible for all who use it. A big success story so far has been the live streaming service provided by the volunteers at SUFCtv. Having provided this service successfully for our adventures in the Irn Bru Cup a couple of years ago the crew were confident of being able to provide the service but with no spectators allowed into the ground the potential audience was a step up in magnitude. There were a few teething troubles in the friendlies but lessons were learned, our database of season ticket holders was “cleaned” to provide more reliable data, and some extra kit was purchased to provide better quality and greater resilience.
The result was over 1,000 live stream passes sold for the visit of Notts County and a maximum viewing figure of 1,500 streams, and the number of viewers who were not able to receive the stream was in single figures. So, special note then to James King for masterminding the filming and streaming from the ground, Steve Grant for the clever stuff around the software and ticketing and for responding to so many pleas for help on the night, and to Pat Carr for managing the help line as emails got more and more frantic either side of 7:45, not forgetting our beleaguered office staff on the phone lines.
The latest news in the country regarding Covid and the measures introduced to combat its spread make it increasingly likely that we will not be able to open up to crowds for first team games for some time and that, similarly, the club’s bars will remain closed. However, we will continue to do all that we can to try and ensure that all of our supporters are not only kept informed but can stay as involved as possible in the club as the season progresses. With this in mind the Board has decided to offer free online programmes for our home matches this season.”
What a terrific response we have had from our supporters to our “plea for help” to fill some of the huge gap caused by Covid-19 via the United We Stand 2020 initiative. To have so far raised just over £40,000 from over 460 fans is simply tremendous. Thank you.
It would be just great to get up to the magic number of 500 supporters backing the scheme. The first of the prize draws takes place tomorrow. So, if you haven’t yet got round to it, or have friends and family for whom Sutton United FC is a big part of their lives in our fabulous community, please help in whatever way you can.
The United We Stand 2020 lapel pins have very much become a lasting symbol of the times and define what our special club is all about. Never more have we demonstrated how much we really are “in it together”. If you haven’t picked yours up yet, they are waiting for you in the club office.
We’ve had to be creative replacing our normal Strikers are Key draws after home games! Hopefully you’ve seen the videos of the first two somewhat eccentric events on the website in which Dominic Feltham and then Micky Joyce assisted with the draws. Congratulations to John Parsons, Paul Wilkins, Ron Denyer and Ian Stone for the first “in absentia” opening of the safe of the season on Tuesday night. Joycey’s magic touch in the box clearly hasn’t left him!
Finally, even with no crowds for first team games the stadium is still well used and we have ongoing maintenance and upgrade work to cope with. Many thanks then to our volunteers who continue to undertake these essential tasks, led by John Parker and John Lowe who, with our former Secretary Ray Ward, have installed a brand new shower unit in the officials’ changing room.