Last Friday morning we advised you of the initial impact of the coronavirus pandemic and how it was expected to affect our football club over the coming weeks. We initially hoped this would centre around cancelling coach travel to matches and making some small changes to normal routines at Hayden Road, and other facilities that we use, to ensure that they were cleaned thoroughly to minimise any risk to players, officials, volunteers, spectators and staff.
However, the effect of this has been far greater than we could have imagined.
There is no football activity across our Club – no matches, no training and no fundraising. Above all we currently have no income from scheduled home matches for the first team. Our last home match, as you know, was on February 1st and currently we do not realistically expect to play again until after April 4th at the very earliest. This means we will have lost at least £25,000 in gate receipts plus, catering, shop and other match day revenue.
In the history of AFC Rushden and Diamonds, I can say we will not have faced a situation as difficult as we do now. Like every club, and many other businesses, costs continue to be incurred by the Football Club, including wages of players, managers and coaches, as well as Hayden Road and administrative costs. This means we are currently trading at a considerable loss which, if allowed to continue, would make our Club unsustainable. We are not alone in this; there are many organisations facing a similar challenge.
On Tuesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer did raise some potential options which may help us in this difficult time, and we are liaising with the FA, the Southern League and other bodies to raise support. In the medium term we hope, and continue to plan for, games to resume in April as we have been instructed. However, we do need help now to cover the short term.
As a member of the wonderful AFC Rushden & Diamonds community, I am so proud of our fantastic volunteers, members and supporters, players and staff, parents and guardians, along with our exceptional sponsors and partners, who, combined, are the real reason why we are here today. I know that many people already support the Club in numerous ways including membership fees, season tickets and our new lottery. Our sponsors and partners contribute immensely to the success of the club at all levels, while our volunteers keep the club afloat. I personally want to thank you for all your support and we need all that to continue. However, I must ask now for urgent financial help from any individual or organisation that can assist us. In reality, any contribution, large or small, will help us immensely. We completely understand that this is a difficult time for many people and we certainly do not expect anyone to do anything to make their position worse.
There are a number of ways in which you can help over the coming weeks:
- We will be releasing next season’s season tickets shortly giving you the opportunity to help us by buying it earlier.
- If you have not had the opportunity to enter our club’s lottery then please do so.
- In addition, we will be launching a special sale in the Club Shop where you can grab a bargain.
- If you, or your organisation, are able to make a donation the easiest way to make the transfer is via the Club Shop using the existing option on the Club website or, send a cheque payable to AFC Rushden and Diamonds to AFC Rushden & Diamonds, Hayden Road. Rushden NN10 0HX
- Equally if your place of work has a charitable policy which could assist us with match funding schemes please let us know.
Over the coming weeks we will keep you updated on a weekly basis about what we are doing to manage the football club through this difficult time. We will keep you informed of the challenges we face.
Once we are advised that we can restart football activity, at any level, we will keep you informed about what actions we are taking, or what help we may need, to get pitches and facilities ready to be re-opened.
In the meantime, I can assure you, my colleagues on the Board are working tirelessly to maximise our chances of survival.
These are exceptional, challenging times for all of us. Please look after yourselves and your loved ones and follow the latest advice from Public Health England and the NHS, which is updated daily and can be found here – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/