Our chief executive, Jason Turner, has provided an update on several club matters amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Good evening, everyone, and thank you for your continued patience as we await news on what the future holds for football at our level.
It’s been widely reported that the EFL will be deciding how to end their season this week and we hope the outcome will enable the National League to proceed with a play-off competition in our division.
As soon as we know more we will share the details with you but, for now, I’d like to bring you up to speed on a variety of other topics which I hope will be of interest.
Firstly I’m pleased to tell you that should we be required to host play-off matches this season, our pitch will be more than ready. Matt Hallam, our Head Groundsman, assisted by Richard Cooper and Luke Evans, have been working tirelessly on our annual renovation to ensure the Meadow Lane surface will be playable and I’d like to thank them for their tremendous efforts.
I would also like to congratulate our media team, whose excellent work throughout this season has seen us nominated in the Football Content Awards’ Best Non-League Club category. Please take a moment to cast your vote by clicking here, scrolling down to the 'Best Football Club' section and selecting Notts County.
Neal Ardley and I are in regular dialogue about how our 24-man training squad can safely return to the club should play-offs be given the go-ahead. It’s very important for us to be prepared, not only to protect our players and staff, but to also ensure we’re able to welcome the team back as quickly as possible to maximise their preparation time.
Sadly, several members of this season’s squad will not be required to return having met with Neal last week. It’s never easy saying goodbye, especially in uncertain times like these, and I wish all outgoing players the very best of luck for the future. A full and final retained list will be confirmed upon the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.
One player we will be seeing plenty more of is our young goalkeeper, Tiernan Brooks. I’m pleased to say he has accepted our offer of a professional contract and I look forward to seeing how he progresses under the guidance of Jake Kean and our brilliant coaching team.
While the players have, of course, been keeping themselves as fit as possible throughout the pandemic, they’ve also been busy making phone calls to elderly, vulnerable and key-worker supporters. Les Bradd and Neal also played a huge part in helping us reach out to nearly 400 fans and I’d like to thank everyone who nominated someone to benefit from what was a very special initiative.
You, our supporters, have once again proven to be the lifeblood of this club in recent months and all of you who pre-ordered packages and experiences for the 2020-21 season through our Crowdfunder campaign should now have been contacted, with further details to follow. If you have any queries in the meantime, please email email@example.com.
We have also received several very kind messages from 2019-20 season ticket holders assuring us that they will not be seeking a refund for the three home matches they have missed due to the cancellation of our regular season. To put things into perspective, should all season ticket holders claim a refund the club stands to lose more than £70,000 at a time when the vast majority of our income has dried up. I fully appreciate this is a period of hardship for many and that in some cases a refund may be required, but for those who can afford to support the club by not requesting a refund I would ask them to please do so. If however you do wish to apply for a refund, please email your full name and membership number to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0115 955 7210 during our office hours. If you’re a seasonal hospitality member, please email email@example.com.
A number of supporters have also been asking for details on our 2020-21 season ticket package but, while we really appreciate their wish to support the club financially, it’s very difficult for us to confirm our offering with so many issues yet to be resolved. As soon as we know more about what next season will look like, we’ll bring you some news.
We are also, of course, waiting for an update on how this season’s FA Trophy campaign will be concluded. The FA remain confident that our two-legged semi-final against Harrogate Town will go ahead at some stage and as a result the two clubs have agreed to not yet process any ticket refunds. Further details will follow in due course.
Following the tremendous success of our recent replica kit flash sale, I’m excited to tell you that we’ll be running a similar initiative on this season’s training wear (plus a limited number of kit items) in the very near future. Keep your eyes peeled and, in the meantime, take a look at some of our Father’s Day offers – you can purchase online and over the phone but please remember it may take a little longer than usual for us to process and dispatch your orders.
On the subject of retail, it won’t be long, we hope, before our 2020-21 kits are on display and ready for you to purchase. The stock is on its way to the club and we’re really looking forward to sharing the new designs once the 2019-20 campaign is at an end.
While the club remains closed and the majority of our staff continue to be furloughed, recent government updates and growing confidence that the play-offs will take place means we’ve been escalating our plans to return club operations to a more normal level in the coming weeks.
As well as leading on that, I’ve been holding several conversations with the board to reflect on how certain objectives and expectancies have materialised during their first year at the helm. When Chris and Alex arrived as our new owners, the club was losing over £2.5million a year. While they were – and continue to be - happy to invest a significant amount of money each year to help the club prosper on and off the pitch, losses of that magnitude clearly aren’t sustainable for any business. They therefore asked me to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the club and the structure of all departments in the first 12 months of their tenure, with a view to reducing the operating losses without compromising key areas of the club moving into their second year.
As a result of this review, the board have taken the decision to streamline our academy operation to bring it more in line with other Category 3 clubs, the majority of whom play in League One or Two. Chris, Alex, Rich and myself recognise the importance of having an academy and how much it means to our supporters in particular, and we have therefore had to make some difficult decisions in order to preserve its financial viability heading into next season, when it will be operating with a new structure intended to reduce running costs while enabling us to continue to provide the best coaching and care we can to our academy players. I’d like to thank our Academy Manager, Craig Wallace, for his input and assistance towards these updated arrangements.
On a final note I would like to express my strong support for our fan Brandon Chambers, who last week courageously spoke out against some vile racist abuse he had received online. I was hugely proud to see a number of our players past and present, along with many fans, sending encouraging messages to Brandon at a hugely upsetting time for him. We consider ourselves to be an inclusive club which provides a safe and welcoming environment for all and the response to Brandon’s bravery shows these are not merely empty words.
I hope this update has been informative and we will, of course, continue to keep you informed as best we can in the hope that we’ll be welcoming you back to Meadow Lane in the not-too-distant future.