On Monday evening we received an email from the National League advising us that the league season is due to commence on Saturday 3rd October. Whilst it is very welcome news to have some certainty around a return to playing football, this announcement still requires further clarification regarding the measures which will need to be put in place to allow safe staging of matches.
We expect to be given more information over the next two weeks about the conditions under which games will be allowed to take place, not least of these being permitted capacity levels. In the meantime we are making whatever preparations we can, exploring various options and getting ready to swing into action once we have greater clarity. It is likely that our players will return to training at the end of August.
Since lockdown began in March, our priorities have been to minimise expenditure and take advantage of every opportunity we can to bring in income. We have been preparing for a number of different scenarios but now that we have a timetable set out we are able to narrow down many of the variables in our budget. One of the biggest challenges we face, of course, is the lack of income we have had since March, and we estimate that lockdown has seen us lose in the region of £200,000 of income and we have to find ways to mitigate the consequences of that. We would remind people that buying a season-ticket is still one of the best ways to support the club at this time; Adrian has also just sent out renewal details for the Strikers are Key scheme for 2020/21 to current syndicate leaders. If you would also like to get involved in this fun initiative, he will be delighted to hear from you - please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
To prepare for the new season we will of course be putting a programme of pre-season friendlies in place, which presents another challenge. Many of the clubs we would want to play matches against will be starting their league season before us, so that limits options, and at the moment we are expecting that all pre-season games will be behind closed doors. We hope that SUFCtv may be able to put in place a live-streaming service but that will depend not only on the technical details but also the cooperation of the opposing clubs, especially if we are playing away, and there is sufficient demand from fans to pay .... to cover the costs of doing so. More news on all that when we have it.
We are starting to see increased levels of usage at the club, with bookings slowly returning to the MBA Lounge and significantly greater levels of activity on the pitch. The big news there is the permitted return of 11 v 11 matches from this Saturday; still no spectators of course, but it does give an opportunity for our Women's and Academy teams to play matches and prepare for their league seasons. At the current time however, we still need to address a number of challenges, including use of changing rooms as one example. We would like to thank all of the groups that have been using the pitch in recent weeks for their flexibility and cooperation in ensuring activities take place in a safe environment and that some fairly complex rules are being followed.
We end on a slightly lighter note, by confirming that Sutton United branded face masks are now on order and should be available for sale in a couple of weeks.