Chairman’s Statement April 2020
Dear members and supporters, It has taken a while to draw oneself towards writing this as recent global events have unfolded, affecting all of us in so many different ways.
Firstly, as has been overwhelmingly the concern within our society, we hope that everyone in our communities keeps well and safe during this difficult and unprecedented time. Furthermore, that our members, all TUFC supporters, the club management, staff, players and your families are able to see your ways through this and keep healthy.
Our thoughts also go towards the people who work on the front line of the NHS, the carers and many vital various key service providers who are continuing to ensure our well being and safety. We have never appreciated them so much, as was evident again on Thursday evening, on my doorstep at 8pm.
We would also like to publicly appreciate the fact that members of our club have been involved in outreaching to our community. It is really a great gesture that some of our players have been involved in helping the vulnerable with deliveries; that Gary Johnson, Aaron Downes and Asa hall have been phoning many of our senior season tickets holders for a supportive chat and that Dominic Mee has also been getting in touch with supporters. Furthermore, the TU Community Sports Trust and Women's team have also been phoning supporters to make sure that they are safe and to offer any help needed. Gary Johnson's question times on TUFCTV have also been a very welcome initiative for many of us. It has been appreciated that his responses have, with eloquence and clarity, addressed a variety of the ongoing questions he has received from supporters in some depth.
Football matters are, rightly, of secondary importance at this time, as we all have much more important concerns and challenges to come to terms with. However, it would be remiss of me not to mention some various news items of interest. We are just trying to keep some focus on issues, as is our members' remit, that might be of relevance in considering TUFC's possible future situation down the line. The following points seem to be of relevance, realising that many of you will have picked these up for consideration already...
Gary Johnson, in one of his excellent question/answer club TV interviews, positively confirmed that the players' wages were still being paid by the club at this moment in time. Moreover, he felt that Clarke Osborne is amenable to funding this expenditure at this time. Furthermore, he didn't think Mr. Osborne would be cutting his losses and was certain that he wouldn't pull the plug as one supporter put it. He trusts the owner and directors to do the right thing by the football club. We, of course, all hope so too.
The National League confirmed an indefinite postponement of the season's fixtures during the last week. Meanwhile the EFL and National League are understood to have had joint talks about how the future might be best planned. Some sources believe a new regionalised EFL division, encompassing National league clubs and Division 2, is one consideration to ensure our lower level professional clubs have a better chance of surviving financially. There seems to be a mixed opinion on how this season should be concluded. The FA/National Leagues are also understood to be in talks, whilst following the government's guidelines and directives. It must be hard to predict outcomes re the pandemic at the moment.
An interesting article in the Non-League Paper states that Premier League clubs have spent in the region of a total of £261 million on intermediaries(agents) this season. The Dagenham and Redbridge owner estimated that a £20 million funding package at least would be needed for all National League clubs to get through this unprecedented crisis. The article suggested that the PL could quite easily donate a significant amount, re the above figures, to help the professional teams in the lower echelons of the football pyramid to pull through.
It has since been announced that PL players are agreeing to take a 30% wage cut, if the season is not finished or is completed without attendances. This would become a defferal if the PL season is eventually ended normally. I understand that the cut is in order to donate funds towards the NHS and lower league players wages if required. However, some recent breaking news suggests that the PFA believes that footballers are concerned that agreements may benefit club ownerships more than non-playing staff and emergency services.
Meanwhile, the PL has apparently agreed to bring forward solidarity payments of £125 million to the English Football League and National League, with a further £20 million to the NHS. It will be interesting to see the developing criteria used in sharing out the funding to EFL and NL individual clubs.
An excellent supporters trust related article, written by our own TUST liaison officer, was published by the NPL N-LP online a week ago and is well worth a read. It has since been published by Supporters Direct Europe!
On a final note, when this global pandemic is eventually over, whenever that might be, the resumption of football will be welcomed by players and supporters alike. This period of absence may just allow people to appreciate a little more the live event ritual of coming together locally on a matchday to share something we all mutually enjoy. Whether playing, meeting up with friends, acquaintances, seeing familiar faces and in many cases attending as a family group or carrying fond family memories.... To be involved again, in one way or another, in the beautiful game as a complete footballing community. This may also include some relief at seeing our familiar fellow clubs also re-appear intact, to rejoin with us in sharing healthy competition.
If you know of any TUST member or supporter, particularly our seniors (of whom I am one!) who would benefit from a phone call and a chat, please get in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Self -isolating myself, it is something else I can actually do! In the meantime, stay safe and well everyone.
Best wishes, Michel Thomas, TUST