So, now we have had a week of football. And wasn't it strange ! Maybe not so much the trip to Haringey, that was pretty much standard fare for a pre-season game other than some of the precautionary measures in place, but definitely strange to be at GGL with more players in the “Red Zone” than people in the stand. The lack of atmosphere was very noticeable, although that did not stop the game against Dulwich being very competitive. We are happy with how the protocols worked for both our home games, there were a few minor lessons to be learned – such as how we get bags of ice to the away team changing rooms – but it gives us confidence that we can cope with a crowd if and when the regulations permit it. Having a few people in the MBA Lounge to watch the live-stream gave us some insight into managing a “crowd”, although obviously we will be hoping for much bigger numbers inside the stadium when the time comes.
On that point, by the time you read this we will have submitted our application to our local Licensing Officer for our proposed capacity. Our Ground Safety Officer, Mike, did the measuring up and completed the calculations and we have prepared an operational plan for how we would be “covid secure” by introducing physical measures and management procedures. One thing is for sure, it is not straightforward and will require everyone to play their part: players, officials, stewards and supporters. To that end we are preparing a Spectator Charter which, for want of a better word, sets out a code of conduct we would ask everyone to follow. It sounds officious, perhaps, but in essence it is just the protocols we have all been following for some time if we go shopping or visit a pub or restaurant.
The best way to gain priority access to matches when the League campaign starts will be to buy a season ticket. We still have around 50 available at this stage - when we receive confirmation of the “new” operating capacity in October, we will, of course, let everyone know how many people will be able to watch matches inside the stadium at that time - as Government directives continue to unfold. Buy yours here
We were successful in our application to the most recent pot of grant money that has been made available, the Matchday Support Fund managed by the Football Foundation to help clubs prepare their stadia ahead of the return to action. This will be very welcome although, of course, we have already swallowed up the full amount in the list of measures we need to take.
We hope everyone has enjoyed the live-streaming service that has been on offer. We think we have ironed out the few difficulties that cropped up initially and would like to thank the SUFCtv team who have been working so hard to develop a professional service in a very short space of time. It's also worth remembering that they are all volunteers. This weekend's friendly at St Albans City will be available to watch on live-stream (£5).
We are delighted with how well everyone has been supporting the United We Stand 2020 fundraising scheme, over 300 donations and a total approaching £30,000. As Bruce says in this interview, it would be great if we can get to five hundred contributors.
Stay safe, everyone !