Neal Ardley has provided an update to supporters as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt our campaign.
Hello all – I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and well.
As it’s been a fortnight or so since my last update, I thought I’d bring you up to speed on one or two things from a footballing perspective.
I’ve been in touch with the squad this week to confirm that our return to training has been suspended for the foreseeable future.
We’d earmarked 9 April as an earliest return date but, given the government’s sanctions and the continuing escalation of the pandemic, that was obviously not going to be possible.
The lads will continue to train at home until we see a significant change in the government’s advice and hear from the relevant authorities as to what will happen with the completion of the season.
We, of course, still want to finish the job we started but fully respect that health comes first and that the authorities are dealing with a complex and unprecedented situation. We’ll remain focused and professional and continue to wait patiently to find out what the next steps will be.
With regards to the lads, our main concern isn’t whether they’re doing enough work – but whether they're doing too much.
This is an incredibly competitive and committed squad who will be going stir crazy without training and matches, so we’ve warned them to stay disciplined and to not veer away from the guidelines set by our strength and conditioning coach, Erik Svendsen.
As the lads’ professional and personal routines have been turned upside down, we’ve also emphasised the importance of diet. We fully expect them to come back in good shape so we can get an effective mini ‘pre-season’ into them before we hopefully get going again. We think around four weeks will be enough to get them ready and I’d hope that the authorities would factor this period in should they make the very welcome decision of resuming the campaign.
As mentioned in my previous update, the work hasn’t stopped for me. I’m having regular video calls with the board to discuss a variety of things, including potential new signings for next season, and I’ve also had the pleasure of making several calls to elderly, vulnerable and key-worker supporters who have been nominated by loved ones as being in need of a pick-me-up at this difficult time.
Each call has been different. Some have been emotional, others have been funny and others informative. The knowledge and passion of our supporters has really shone through and it’s made me even more determined to lead this club to success when we can get back to action.
The players and Les Bradd have also been picking up the phone and we’ve now made around 150 calls in total, with plenty more to get through in the coming days and weeks.
I hope this update has given you an interesting snapshot into what’s happening behind the scenes and, as a club, we’ll of course continue to keep you informed as best we can.
Stay home, stay safe and protect our brilliant NHS.