Late last week I spoke to a couple of Step 3-6 managers to find out their views on the quietness from the leagues and FA over what is happening to their season.
This weekend I caught up with Lee Robson, the chairman of Thurlow Nunn Premier Division leaders Wroxham FC, to ask him how the club have faired over the lockdown period, whether provisions should have been made for the scenario we’re in and what it will feel like when the Yachtsmen are back on the pitch:
TK: Have you been able to keep the club ticking over in these times without football income and more importantly ensure the club is here for the future?
LR: We were really lucky in the sense that we entered the latest lockdown on the back of our FA Vase run which gave us the cushion of cash in the bank, not every club has been that fortunate.
I think my job helped as well as I work for the local council and I could see that the pandemic was going to be severe and we were in for a long haul. We immediately took steps to make the savings that we needed to but were also on the front foot when it came to making sure we could apply for any financial help that was available.
Ironically, the series of lockdowns helped us prepare better in some ways and in fact we have taken the time to invest in parts of the ground including a new irrigation system, have upgraded the showers and we will shortly be building an extension for our catering operation.
Most of this has been funded by the Covid-19 related financial assistance and of course we don’t have any full time players that we need to keep paying nor indeed have to furlough.
The hardest part has been to try and keep people connected and occupied and our team managers have been doing a brilliant job on that, right from our six year olds through to the first team.
Longer term the worry is how many income streams we will lose from match day raffle, business sponsorship through to junior tournaments, although the evidence of this season suggests that gates will be significantly up.
TK: Do you think that there should have been almost an emergency rulebook to apply for the situation we find ourselves in now?
LR: The first time around it was understandable that people were not prepared for what was happening, whether that was leagues, players, clubs or even the FA’s themselves as even the best contingency plans were redundant from day one.
There was little option at the time other than to null and void the season as there were too many unknowns and risks. I think the second wave was predictable and maybe an emergency rulebook is a little too black and white and not able to take in the uncertainties that the whole pandemic threw up, but a series of thought out plans would have been wise.
That said I don’t believe clubs should be put in the position to make decisions as clubs are all in different situations depending on cash flow, commitments, and league position when the season was suspended this time around.
The FA nationally and locally need to show some leadership, which out of necessity will mean balancing out the interest’s and whats best for football in general.
There are bound to be some winners and losers whatever happens, it’s just a shame that these things can’t be sorted out on the pitch.
TK: How good is it going to feel when Wroxham FC take to the pitch again and football is back?
LR: It’s going to be brilliant when we get football back again. I popped down to the ground this week to help set up a new PA system and it was a hive of activity of work going on, but it’s all a bit pointless without something going on on the big green thing in the middle.
We all miss it terribly and if we just wanted to push paper around or tidy up bits of grass then we would have done something else with our spare time. It’s the beautiful game but like most beautiful things it’s also highly addictive.