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An Update From The Board
We hope you and your families are all safe and well and looking forward to new season starting sometime in the near future.
It is great that at last we have some form of roadmap to get competitive football back at our level. However, it goes without saying that the recent coronavirus pandemic has been difficult for clubs, particularly within the lower leagues non- league and grassroots. Finally, we have guidance to help us plan for a new season and a return for spectators.
The FA have indicated that we will return to competitive football with pre-season friendlies from the 1st August and leagues at Steps 3 and 4 from the 19th of September. The plans detail that these will be played behind closed doors initially with the prospect of spectators being able to return in October. There is strong feeling within our league that a return to competitive football, for most clubs, is not possible without spectators and the subsequent ability to cover match day and fixed costs through gate income. We are therefore awaiting further clarification from the league on a potential return date.
These factors have had an effect on our ability to plan pre-season fixtures. At present, we have dates with various clubs pencilled in but, as with many other clubs, we are reluctant to firm up such plans until we know when the return date will be. One pre-season fixture that is firmed up, is the annual Thanet Cup against Ramsgate at Hartsdown Park on the 22nd of August, which unfortunately will be behind closed doors. We will be looking to stream this and other friendly games via social media platforms.
The lack of activity and income into the club over the past several months has been very difficult. We have had to minimise costs as much as possible throughout this period. Most of our full and part-time staff have been on furlough so we can protect their jobs and we have economised as much as possible on our fixed costs.
Although we now have a plan to move forward, none of us know at this stage whether we will return to the same normality as we had before or to the same level of income. As a club, we must plan to be prudent as we move forward step by step over the next few months.
The club’s income level is obviously not as it was at this point last year and we have discussed with Jay how we maximise the available budget to its best potential. We must be clear that the level of budget available for players and staff is not at the level it was previously and looks likely to remain so until such time as we are able to be clear on future income.
We are not alone in facing these issues. Most clubs, apart from a few, have the same issues to deal with. Jay and the board are positive that despite this we will still be able to attract the type of player that fits within Jay’s plans and who are positive about playing for Margate FC and our future. Over the past few weeks, our management team have been working tirelessly to recruit and retain the right players to the club. Understandably, it is a more difficult task than normal, as players are somewhat reluctant to sign in the current situation. On top of this, the pair really want to make sure recruits fit in with what we are trying to do and build. On a positive note, we are close with a couple who will be great additions to our squad, if we can get them over the line! Jay has expressed this before and we will reiterate, patience is going to be important this year. We will keep everyone updated as soon as there is some more news on the player front via our website and social media channels.
Pre-season training has recommenced. We have not been able to retain our previous training facility in Maidstone and are currently pursuing other possible suitable venues. In the meantime, training will be undertaken at Hartsdown Park on the 3G. In addition, we will be holding open trials at Hartsdown Park on Saturday 8th August, so hopefully a few undiscovered gems might appear. Our Under 23s team will be managed by Paul Lamb with assistance from Tom Hickman this season. The group will be training with the first team as much as possible, so that Jay and his team can encourage and monitor their development.
Another update of note which you might have read about already, is the news regarding our kit supplier. We are delighted to arrange a deal with O’Neills who supplied our superb History Kits. This deal is an important and positive one that has been months in the making. Over the upcoming weeks, we hope to be able to reveal more about the design of the home and away kits our squad will be wearing for the next season. So, once again do keep your eyes peeled on our website and social media channels.
In terms of redevelopment, our planning application is currently in progress and we thank the many supporters who have written or emailed the planning department to show their support. It is much appreciated.
Our club’s sustainability has been bought into clear focus over the past few months and it is more important than ever that our redevelopment proposals receive approval and develop over the next few years. We will be looking to put the temporary changing rooms in place between the Fives and the West Stand during this season as a precursor to the redevelopment. Once we can welcome you all back to Hartsdown Park safely, we will arrange a Fans Forum within the guidelines to appraise and update you all on the current position.
As you may have seen, we have to appoint a COVID 19 officer and prepare our COVID secure plan and risk assessment within the next few weeks. This work is currently ongoing and will be published on our website in the first few weeks of August. Deny Wilson is leading on this and Peter Cove our safety officer and health and safety expert will be signing off the assessments and procedures.
The past few months have been difficult and challenging for everyone and things have far transcended the importance of football. However, this time has offered an opportunity for reflection and one thing we as a board would like to introduce is a monthly update like this for supporters. These written updates might not always be this long in length, they may come from individuals rather than the collective board but we feel and hope they will prove useful in connecting us more in the future.
We need your support more than ever as we begin to look ahead to the 2020/21 campaign. This football club has experienced challenges before and with the loyal and unyielding support of fans and those in the local community, Hartsdown Park has remained a place we all treasure and enjoy visiting. We are counting down the days until we will be able to do this again and relish the familiarity of a 3pm visit on our Saturday afternoons.
Please stick with us. Please show your support. Please keep safe and we will see you all again soon.
Saturday, 25 July 2020
By Charlotte Richardson