Martyn Starnes pens an open letter to supporters following the curtailment of the Sky Bet League One season...
In what has been an unprecedented time for football and beyond, our thoughts go out to everybody who has been impacted by the dreadful COVID 19 virus. Our frontline key workers in the NHS and other sectors have been magnificent in providing essential services and care in the face of the crisis, risking their own health in the process. We thank them for their courage and fortitude.
In times like these, a true positive can be witnessed in how people and communities pull together and this has been no more apparent that with the fantastic work of our very own Community Trust, who have championed many schemes to help those who need support in the local area.
With today’s vote of the EFL Sky Bet League One clubs to end the current season with immediate effect and to finalise the standing on a points per games basis, I felt that it was necessary to communicate to supporters how and why the football club voted in these matters and where today’s decision leaves us.
Several weeks ago we were strongly in favour of completing the fixtures this season. We’re in the game to play football matches and it is the only way to determine promotion and relegation issues with complete fairness. However, it had become increasingly evident to us that fulfilling the fixture programme was going to be extremely difficult to achieve.
The reasoning behind our decision to vote for the curtailment of the season was based on the following issues:-
The protocols and costs of testing associated with the return to contact training were daunting. There was a general consensus that the season could not go beyond 31 July due to player contract issues so the time available to play the outstanding nine games looked challenging with increased injury risk to players
In the dialogue surrounding the return of competitive matches at League One level, the costs associated with the return to play, including the purchase of the relevant COVID-19 testing kits and PPE, would have totalled at least £500,000.
This is a significant outlay and when considered alongside the necessity to play the games behind closed doors with little or no income, meant we felt that a return to competitive football was simply not feasible for us in the current circumstances.
With the turbulent times that COVID-19 has implemented on businesses’ across the globe, I feel that it’s appropriate to inform our fans that while the impact of Coronavirus has indeed been sizeable, a proactive approach from the club has allowed us to navigate these telling times and to start planning for the future.
Naturally now the focus turns to next season and there has been a continuous dialogue with Ben and the recruitment team, who have been using this extended interval in competitive games to plan for next season and beyond. Work has also commenced on the new training facility which should be ready for the players to use by September which is a significant step forward.
The work at The Colony will provide a much-needed base for the first-team and is a project that we firmly believe will help us grow as a football club.
We understand that supporters may be looking for more information on topics such as retail and ticketing. In the coming days and weeks, we will relay the processes on how to claim refunds on match tickets purchased for the cancelled games of the 2019/20 campaign.
In conclusion, I would like to extend our appreciation to our fans, who have shown unwavering support to the club in these testing times. This has come in a variety of forms, with record sales on the online store, to an encouraging number of Season Ticket sales for the 2020/21 season. Thank you to everyone. We look forward to seeing you back at Mem as soon as conditions allow.