I write to you as Chairman of the Football Club in circumstances that no-one could have envisaged. The COVID-19 which is causing chaos all over the world is far more serious a matter than playing football matches. The economic impact on businesses is profound and I urge all management, players, supporters and volunteers to stay safe and adhere to the strict Government guidelines that are now being imposed upon us. There is no doubt in my mind that as a nation we will get over this, but it is self-evident that we have some real challenges to overcome in the future.
Witton Albion Football Club is a non-profit business serving the local community. It relies on gate receipts, donations and sponsorship in order to survive. Our cash reserves have been depleted due to the fact that the virus followed a quite dreadful period of weather and we last had a home league game on the 1st February 2020. Some seven weeks ago. We did, of course, play in the Mid Cheshire District Cup, but as is the norm, the proceeds were split between the Mid Cheshire District League and 1874 Northwich. We will be in discussions with HMRC and other business creditors about a payment holiday. Suffice to say that running a stadium of our size and quality costs money. This year we have shown a monumental change in the business from where we were last summer. It is a testament to the hard work, dedication and generosity of all involved that we avoided a potential disaster and put ourselves on a firm financial footing.
This firm footing has enabled us to ride out the storm of winter and the bleak period that we have had to endure with hardly any games being played. We survived. We met hardship and difficulty full on and prevailed. The annual accounts to June 2019 show an incredible improvement. Shareholders will be getting copies and notice of the AGM shortly. Whilst an AGM date has been set, the current circumstances dictate that this will be largely a paper exercise. Peoples’ health is paramount. Having got through our difficult time last summer, we are going to have to do it again. We will do it again.
Our players and staff who travelled to Lancaster last week did so at great personal risk. They will be paid today. Moving forward, as far as possible we will honour our contractual obligations between now and the rest of season. Non-contractual players will not be paid. Sadly, that is the way of things. We will of course do our utmost to redress this from any Government Grants.
We must have faith in our Government that they will find a solution. With no income and substantial overheads, we will have to cut our cloth accordingly. The 60 club donations were a game changer last summer. I call upon any shareholders or supporters to assist us between now and the rest of the season. I am not asking those who already donate so much to give any more. That would not be fair. I am inviting other supporters and non-contributors to step up to the mark and assist us over the next six weeks. This is your club. Please contact me to discuss. Any contribution helps.
In this way we avoid being in a similar position to one of our fellow NPL Clubs which has had to lay-off the entire management and playing staff. One of the many reasons that I am your Chairman is that I have total faith in the supporters and the volunteers to see us through any adversity that we as a football club may face. It truly is an honour and a privilege.
I know that together nothing can defeat us and that we will overcome this difficult situation.