Chairman’s Update #26 – 12 September 2020

Hello and thank you for taking the time to read what will be the penultimate update from the Board ahead of the start of the new season next weekend.

While we eagerly wait for the 1st team to start their new campaign, our Under 21s and Under 18s (Northants Senior Youth League) played their first matches of the new season this week and both recorded impressive wins. Our Academy start their new season today and the new Moulton College Under 19 side play their first match on Wednesday next week. I’m sure you will all join me in wishing all our players, managers, coaches and parents the very best of luck for the new season.  If you would like to keep up to date with the results and fixtures for all our teams, they are available on the website under the ‘Teams’ tab on the home page.

As I am sure you are all aware, from Monday the Government’s COVID-19 guidance will change with the introduction of the ‘rule of 6’. This means that social gatherings of more than 6 people will not be permitted. Following the announcement, we received swift confirmation from the DCMS, The FA and The Southern League that for Step 3 football, supporters will still be permitted into grounds providing that Clubs are following the Government’s requirements to make grounds COVID-19-secure. As you know, lots of people at the Club have been working exceptionally hard to carry the necessary risk assessments and put together a detailed action plan for Hayden Road in order to reduce the risk of transmission among supporters and thanks to this, we will still be able to allow supporters at matches. However, it does mean that all spectators must observe the arrangements in place at Hayden Road – always maintain a social distance, use the blue markings around the ground (all spaced 1m apart) or keeping 2 seats between groups and individual groups, standing together, should not exceed 6.

As part of the phased introduction of spectators, the maximum capacity for attendance was initially set at 300, increasing to 600 where the ground was capable of holding that amount safely. These numbers are based on set percentages of the minimum capacity requirements for grounds at our level, however, due to the nature of Hayden Road, it may be challenging to achieve a capacity as high as 600 with COVID-19 measures in place. The initial safe figure from our risk assessment was estimated at 397, but now that the Clubhouse has reopened (Dale’s Bar will also be open for the first match of the season) and supporters are getting used to the arrangements, we can review our capacity levels based on the ground markings and experience. This review is set to take place during the coming week and information will be made available via the usual channels as soon as possible with regards to arrangement for our first home game the following week.

One of the specific changes we have introduced during the pre-season fixtures has been the introduction of cashless transactions and we intend to extend this further as the season gets under way. The all-ticket, buy in advance approach, for pre-season friendly matches has worked well in terms of moving away from cash at the turnstiles, supporting track and trace requirements and also monitoring capacity limits. For those who have attended games, I’d like to say a big thank you for working with the arrangements, as well as for the feedback we have received so far. I hope that you understand why these changes have been necessary as everyone at the Club continues to work hard, within the restrictions, to ensure that your visit to Hayden Road is an enjoyable one.

For those who have already purchased a season ticket, please be assured that these will be valid as normal and that there will be no requirement to purchase a ticket for each home League match, or to use the TicketSource system. Season ticket holders will effectively receive priority access to the games, subject to any capacity restrictions in place. The existing season tickets also allow the Club meet the track and trace requirements as season ticket holders’ contact details are already held on the Club’s database. If you have not yet purchased a season ticket for the new season, now would be a great time to do so, guaranteeing entry to games as well as representing a significant saving saving on individual match day prices at £199 for adults and £145 for concessions. The cost can also be spread over 3 payments if you wish. Season Tickets are currently available from the Club Shop here –http://www.afcdiamondsshop.com/tickets.asp

Finally, please remember take good care of yourself and your loved ones and keep up-to-date with all the national and local government and public health advice regarding Covid-19. The most up-to-date advice can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

One Fan, ONE vote, one community, one club

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