Chairman’s Update – March 30
30th March 2020
Boston United chairman David Newton has issued an update amid the Coronavirus-enforced shutdown of the football season.
Speaking from home, Mr Newton said: “Following the National League’s correct decision to suspend matches on March 16, we have been working hard to make sure that all our staff are safe; everyone in the football club and Community Foundation have been paid and we have reduced the outgoings as far as possible to help get us through this difficult period.
“We will be looking to access the various government initiatives that have been made available to businesses as soon as they are open for applications, but inevitably these will take time to come through. Due to the lack of available work, most staff have now accepted change to furloughed contracts, which will enable us to hopefully access the funding available through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Sufficient staff are, however, still working to ensure that we can continue to function and have regular communications with the fans, stakeholders and, of course, be ready to start trading again as soon as it is safe to do so.
“Although they cannot do their ‘day jobs’ at present, some of our community staff are busy posting on social media every day, helping everyone to keep fit and improve skills!
“Craig Singleton and Christian James are also busy challenging everyone’s memory by posting quizzes; seeking out old photos and keeping everyone engaged. It is really important that we help as many people as possible through this period of self-isolation with the club firmly at the heart of the community. I am very proud of the great work being done by our fantastic staff.
“We enjoy a massive following across social media platforms, so if you are currently helping in the community please do not hesitate to let us have the details and we would be only too happy to share information for you.
“You can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the relevant details.”
In reference to the ongoing suspension of the National League season, the United chairman admitted not knowing where the situation was heading, with the Pilgrims fourth in the National League North standings but with matches in hand on two of the sides above them.
He continued: “In terms of the National League, I unfortunately do not know where this will go. As you can imagine different clubs are looking for different outcomes based on their own financial and league positions.
“We have had a fantastic season which is a credit to the hard work of the first team management and staff; club staff; the players and, of course, the wonderful support of all our fans. We are well-placed in National League North and I would hate all that to go to waste, however at the present time I think we need to accept that playing football matches is very secondary to saving lives and supporting our fantastic NHS.
“There is plenty of time to make decisions about how the leagues will (or will not) be concluded, however there is real urgency around playing contracts. If the leagues are not to be terminated, some financial support will definitely be needed for clubs in the National League. We have no income but would still be forced to honour playing contacts for an undefined period.
“I understand that the football authorities are trying to find a way forward that is not open to challenge, but all the while we are trying to keep our clubs alive. I fully appreciate that all businesses are in a similar position and I do not want anyone to think that I am in any way implying that football clubs are more important than other businesses, they are not, but we do have a very specific challenge around player contracts – an issue that does not exist in other businesses but does need urgently addressing by the football authorities, if clubs are to find a way through this very difficult period.
“Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation last Monday evening, we took the decision to close all Chestnut Homes developments until further notice, to not only protect our staff, contractors and customers, but also the wider public. On Tuesday morning the waters were muddied by Michael Gove saying that construction sites should stay open, however it was clear that we could not guarantee the safety of everyone, as it is virtually impossible to maintain social distancing during the construction process, so we continued with the close down; also ensuring that as many head office staff as possible could work from home.
“This close down included the new Community Stadium site. The stadium is really taking shape now and work on the pitch is under way, so it is heart-breaking for all those who have worked so hard to keep the project on programme despite the wettest winter on record. Everyone was totally focused on the facility being ready for the new season, but the close down was absolutely essential for the safety of all.
“Clearly we do not know how long this dreadful pandemic will last. We will, however, make sure that measures are in place so football can resume when we are instructed to do so by the National League, regardless of the availability of the stadium.
“It is a time for us all to come together and do our bit and ‘doing our bit’ at the present time means staying at home – and social distancing for as long as it takes.
“Sadly many will lose loved ones and it will not be easy for anyone. It may mean financial and possible mental health issues for some, so it is essential that we all continue to support each other, particularly the elderly and those at risk.
“There is no better nation on earth at doing that than ours, so I believe that we will come through this together – and will come through it as a better and more caring nation.
“Stay safe – and look after everyone around you.”
If you would like to contact Boston United Community Foundation please email email@example.com.