Much of the effort during the past week has been in interpreting the rules of the Government's various support packages to business and understanding how they would apply to football and, in particular, to our club. So, firstly, a big thank you to Bruce and Adrian who took the lead on exploring what effects these measures would have on the club's finances. Not an easy task when there is still so much uncertainty about virtually everything.
The first thing that we can confirm is that we have asked all players and other staff, including non-playing employees, to agree to accept “furlough” status. This enables us to take advantage of the funds made available via the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, one of the initiatives established to assist businesses to navigate the troubled waters we are all experiencing right now. This scheme provides a substantial contribution towards our wage bill and will help significantly as we battle through this crisis, although at the moment the CJRS is only confirmed as running until the end of May. The only people who are working are our Academy team, who are doing brilliantly to keep the education delivery active through use of an online portal. Furthermore, Marvin and his team have devised a way to continue recruitment of next season's student intake using remote interviews and skills videos. Quite ingenuous !
One consequence of the furlough status is that employees are then not allowed to undertake any work at all, which sadly means that Matt, the coaching staff and first team squad are not permitted to be interviewed by the media, including SUFCtv, or be involved in any other club activities. This does seem contrary to the goals of using social media and online content to help keep everyone's spirits up, so we are hoping that there may be a clarification or softening of the rules to allow this to re-commence.
In the meantime, all of our volunteers can talk to SUFCtv – you may have heard Women's Manager Duncan Muller interviewed at the weekend and you may also have had the dubious pleasure of listening to SUFCtv delivering a Q&A with myself as the interviewee on Thursday night. Watch out for more shows from SUFCTv in the coming days and weeks and please do listen in.
Looking at the football sides of things, nothing is really any clearer than a week ago. The National League has announced an indefinite suspension of the current season but all that really does is acknowledge that a re-start is not possible in the next few weeks. We have been in daily contact with the league and other clubs but the issues are very complex and whatever is decided there will be clubs who will not be happy. Trying to be equitable to all is a really thankless task.
Even though there is no clarity about this season yet, nevermind next, we are encouraged by the steady sales of 20/21 season tickets and this is one way in which supporters can help the club at this time, although we do of course realise that many people are experiencing their own difficulties, so we will be looking at extending the Early Bird period. More news on that shortly too.
In the meantime stay safe - we will be providing another update soon.
Chairman, Board of Directors