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TUST Update on the National League (NL) situation, pending decisions about the future of this season and finances

Dear members and supporters,

Please find below a copy of the letter written on behalf of TUST, by our supporter liaison officer (SLO) Nick Brodrick. This was sent last week directly to Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for the department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), as well as copying in our three local MPs.

This has been supported by a second similar letter from Torbay's MP Kevin Foster, after a meeting with TUST and communications from our club, TUFC. TUST's letter was also attached to our MP's letter as he advised me that would ensure that it was read at government level more promptly, which we appreciate. Thank you to all supporters who have also contacted their own MPs.

Hopefully, you will have already received more details from us through reading our recent Fanzone bulletin, and there are further articles in today's Herald Express, written by our SLO as well as reporter Richard Hughes.

We are now awaiting the outcome of this week's important meeting between the NL and the DCMS, , we believe that the NL are then again going back to the clubs in all three leagues before making a final decision as to whether to continue the season. The outcomes are obviously of great importance to our club, to many communities and possibly to the government. Of course, there is the significant funding of furloughed staff to consider if full -time club's cease to operate due to the unsustainable financial implications of continuing.

We will update you further when there are any important future developments, as I am sure TUFC will.

Keep safe and well.

Michel Thomas

TUST chairman


The Right Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

100 Parliament Street

London SW1A 2BQ

January 22 2021

Dear Mr Dowden

I write to you as the Supporter Liaison Officer for the Torquay United Supporters’ Trust not only on behalf of Torquay United but also for all supporters of the 66 National League’s football clubs.

The reason for writing is to register our surprise and concern following the announcement this

week that further financial support for the National League for the 2020-21 season is to be in the form of loans and not grants.

Covid-19 has clearly affected all walks of life and sadly far too many have lost the battle but now there is the hope of better times ahead that vaccination can bring. In this context it seems strange that the previous form of funding cannot be continued. Not only is the survival of National League football at stake but also the mental health wellbeing that is derived from fans following the fortunes of their community club.

The loss of revenue from paying spectators not allowed to watch and from secondary income through hospitality bars and food outlets has brought many clubs to their knees with the very real threat of going out of business - players are on contracts and bills still have to be paid.

This week’s news has been the final straw for too many and today, as a result of the DCMS decision, the National Leagues North and South, that’s 43 clubs and their communities, have decided to suspend their seasons for two weeks.

The decision to offer loans, rather than grants, is very much at odds with the criteria for the £10m grant given to the National League to allow the season to start in October 2020.

It is clear that no club last year would have consented to start the season had they realised that once the National Lottery funding ended in December 2020, any further funds would have been in the form of loans.

The importance of the role and influence clubs play in their local communities cannot be underestimated and this must have been a factor in the decision making last year to financially support football’s re-start, albeit without spectators.

As clubs and communities have, in the majority, adhered to the rules and restrictions of Tiers and Lockdowns, it is of vital importance that these National League clubs be allowed to continue playing - but they cannot do so if there will be ‘X’ amount of loans to repay when there is no income. Players’ livelihoods, their families, local communities all rely on football being played.

According to an FA survey published in July 2019 Grassroots football is worth in excess of £10b per year to the UK economy, creating more than £400m in contributions to the Exchequer and more than £40m in health benefits.

Were the whole National League system grind to a halt, the cost of furloughing players and staff would be around £14m which would be £3m more than the £11m available - in grants - to allow the season to continue.

So, on behalf of Torquay United, club and supporters, and all National League clubs, the Torquay United Supporters’ Trust asks that you reconsider your decision.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Brodrick

TUST Supporter Liaison Officer



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