Chairman’s Update #24 – 30 August 2020

Welcome to the latest update from the Board.

In last week’s update, I explained some of the main changes that have been introduced at Hayden Road to minimise the potential transmission of Covid-19 amongst supporters. This week, in our games against King’s Lynn Town FC and Bedford Town FC, we have been able to test our arrangements in preparation for the start of the League season in September. I would like to say thank you to you all and the supporters and officials of both visiting teams for co-operating with our stewards and match officials to ensure that these arrangements are working.  In most cases, they have worked well and have been received positively and understood by supporters.

However, there are two areas that have caused some minor issues that I would like to comment on. Firstly, the introduction of the one-way system and the connected issue of accessing the external toilets. Like most football clubs and similar venues, a one-way system has been introduced where there are significant pinch points. Under current guidance narrow walkways cannot be used for two-way pedestrian flows. At Hayden Road, there are two such pinch points; one between the ball catcher and goal at the Maple Road end of the ground and the other, at the corner area between the toilets and the main exit gate onto Hayden Road. These parts of the ground cannot be used to allow people to cross in both directions to comply with social distancing guidelines. Under the current arrangements, due to the Club House being closed for renovation, this does mean that spectators in the Hevey and Peter De Banke stands must walk all the way around the ground to access the toilets. It is difficult to find a solution that does not either simply reverse the one-way system or put supporters at increased risk due to unsafe social distancing. Once all the facilities are open at the ground and toilets are available in the Club House spectators will have more options available. However, for the time being and until the social distancing guidelines change, the one-way system will have to remain in place.

The second area that initially caused some issues was the ability to maintain adequate social distancing between supporters in the Peter De Banke stand. After the Kings Lynn game, additional signage was introduced in and around the stand to help spectators. At Friday night’s game, despite the heavy rain, it looks like most spectators were able to find space and keep off the steps marked in red. We will need to continue to monitor the number of spectators in the stand to ensure it complies with the guidelines and, if at any time, it is felt that the stand is over-crowded, our stewards may ask some supporters to stand elsewhere within the ground.

Matchday arrangements are under constant review and we will refine them where it is practical and safe to do so ahead of the start of the new season. If you have any suggestions or comments to make, please email them to support@afcdiamonds.com We can’t promise that we will be able to action every suggestion but we will do our best within the current restrictions that we are obliged to abide by. It’s also worth remembering that the restrictions are in place in order to keep everyone as safe as we can in the current climate.

The Southern League Annual General Meeting was held on Friday evening via Zoom conference call – this is important because the League rules state that the meeting must have been held before the new season can start! On Thursday, we received our initial fixture list for the season. Our first game is away at Nuneaton Borough FC on September 19th before starting our home League campaign a week later against Barwell FC. The full fixture list for the season can be found here – https://www.afcdiamonds.com/202021-senior-fixtures-and-results/

This week, we have also secured sponsorship for the away and 3rd shirts. John Gregory has worked hard to achieve this and we are pleased to welcome the new sponsors to the Club. New playing kits are on order and we expect to receive them from the middle of October onwards. You can pre-order shirts here –  http://www.afcdiamondsshop.com/replicakit.asp

Given the restricted capacity at Hayden Road and all matches currently being all-ticket, please don’t forget to renew or buy your membership and/or season tickets. Members and season ticket holders will have access to tickets 24 hours before they go on general sale.

If you renew your membership, or join for the 1st time, before August 31st, you will be automatically entered into the free prize draw for a chance to win a framed new season shirt & lithograph signed by the 1st Team.

Membership is available here – www.afcdiamonds.com/membership.

  • Adult / concession membership £25
  • Junior/under 16 membership      £5 – free entry into 1st team home League games is included with Junior memberships!

Season Tickets are available here – http://www.afcdiamondsshop.com/tickets.asp

  • Adults  £199
  • Concessions £145

Full details of our Covid-19 matchday information including risk assessments and action plans can be found here – https://www.afcdiamonds.com/covid19-match-day-documentation/

Finally, please remember to keep up to date with all government guidelines regarding Covid-19 either via local media or Government and Public Health England advice which can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

One Fan, One Vote, One Community, One Club