Chairman’s Update – February 2021

Hello and thank you for taking the time to read my February update. I hope that it finds you safe and well and that you and your loved ones are doing ok under the current lockdown conditions.

Despite having no football across the Club, work is continuing off the field at quite a rate.  In many ways it is busier now than during a regular season! This week, for example, the Board held our final finance review of the year, forecasting for quarter four whilst also starting the budget preparations for 2021-2022. Currently, no guidance has been issued by the authorities about what will happen to the remainder of the current season, so we are preparing for several possible outcomes in the short term and for the 21-22 campaign. I understand from that the uncertainty that this creates is a little frustrating, not least that we have not yet been able to announce what will happen with regards to season tickets which many of you bought around 11 months ago. All I can do for now is to assure you that whenever the final decision is made by the FA, the Club will communicate the options available to season ticket holders, which I’m sure you will find to be both fair and flexible.  There is also a continued effort to seek financial support to help the Club survive and continue to meet its fixed costs. Once again, a huge thank you to our colleagues at East Northamptonshire Council for a discretionary grant of £4,500 towards these expenses. Last week we also applied for a grant from the DCMS Winter Survival Package to help us over January, February, and March.

As planning for next year continues, it is certainly clear that 21-22 will be challenging from both financial and operational viewpoints. All of us will need to work harder than ever to rebuild and recover and continue to provide safe and welcoming experience for players and supporters across all of the venues which AFC R&D uses. The Club can also play and important role in helping the local community get “back to normal” and I look forward to that work getting underway soon.

Over the last few months, the Club has been working hard to provide some extra ways to improve communication. The Board introduced a new Communications, Digital, and Marketing sub-committee, chaired by Scott Stapley, to spearhead this important work. The committee have already put in place several initiatives which you may have seen, including:

  • The Rushin’ & Rantin’ podcast covering a wide range of issues about the Club. The two most recent episodes give a fascinating yet contrasting insights; an interview with Tom Lorraine and work behind the scenes within the Board. If you have not had chance to listen yet, you can find them here:
  • Creating a regular “One Club” news platform specifically looking at different parts of the Club. Recently this has included excellent features about Walking Football as well as the work of the Academy. These are designed to increase everyone’s awareness of what goes on at AFC R&D beyond the 1st Team and to focus on wider community aspects. Every month, you will see different features highlighting the outstanding work which our Club delivers.
  • Developing and carrying out a Members Survey about the current package and experience and to understand what Members would like to see in the future. This will be launched at the beginning of March and the initial feedback will be published by the end of April. I hope that as many Members as possible will take part in this survey; while also anyone who wishes to join as a Member can do so here

“Respect for our Community” is one of AFC R&D’s underpinning Strategic Objectives and I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone of the Co-op Local Community Fund in operation at local stores in Rushden, Higham Ferrers, Finedon, Irthlingborough, Wellingborough and Wollaston. Running until the Autumn all Co-op members can help raise funds for our Club. In fact, anyone can sign up to the scheme and you earn rewards for every £ spent on Co-op goods which go into your membership account for you to spend in store. The Co-op also donate 2p for every £1 you spend towards your nominated good cause. So, all you have to do is sign up at your local Co-op if you haven’t already and nominate AFC R&D as your good cause. Alternatively sign up here – Stacey Hawkins and her colleagues at the Higham Ferrers’ Co-op are currently raising funds for our main sponsor, Rushden Mind, by walking 500 miles this month. So, if you are in store, please donate if you can or you can donate online here –

The Team Building Lottery continues to be very popular and will be even more important for next season. The lottery really is one of those rare win/win initiatives, supporting the playing budget AND giving all participants the opportunity to win Monthly and Quarterly cash prizes. The next Quarterly Draw, for just under £1,800 will be made 5th March so if you would like to participate, simply make sure you join before the deadline of Friday February 26th.

May I also take the opportunity to put a date in your diary. The popular quiz nights continue to operate by Zoom and the next quiz will be on Thursday, March 18th.

Finally, please be careful going about your daily routines and keep up to date with all the local information and advice that is being issued for areas across Northamptonshire. The best place to get the information is here – , including details from the Prime Minister’s announcement expected on Monday as well as both national and local guidance.