STATEMENT FROM THE CHAIRMAN - JULY/AUGUST 2020
I am pleased to confirm that the Government has accepted that clubs at our level cannot sustain themselves without supporters attending matches. My sincere thanks to all those people who petitioned, including some MPs, so that the right decision could be reached. Many clubs would have been faced with financial ruin otherwise. They now have a fighting chance! For our part, it is now some five months since we had a home game in front of our own fans. Even the God of Fixture Compilers was angry with us. We had four consecutive home games scheduled in April!
We now have a provisional start date of 19th September 2020. Whilst supporters were allowed into grounds from last Saturday, we deemed ourselves unready. Our priority concern is safety. Our COVID Officer, Jo Heffey, has done an excellent job in difficult circumstances, and the Committee of Club representatives, hastily assembled to assist, convened last week. With input from all Witton staff and Northwich Victoria Chairman Brian Turner, Jo has prepared a comprehensive report detailing requirements to ensure the stadium and Social Club are in a state of readiness to achieve the necessary standards and safe environment for all supporters. We will be acting upon it over the next week. Please adhere to the rules and stay safe! I am sure that you are all itching to get back to Wincham Park on 31st August. The stadium is looking magnificent and our collaborative effort with our tenants has made this job easier. The same efforts have been, and will continue to be applied in adapting the ground to conform with the stipulated Government and FA guidelines for the restart.
After this very difficult period, we have been able to sustain ourselves through this pandemic with limited income. A combination of continued donations, government grants and the continued tight financial control has all helped. Carl and Gary have been working extremely hard to secure the quality of players necessary for us to make a competitive challenge for promotion. From top to bottom, the club has the aspirations to play at a higher level.
Many of you will already be aware of the number of new players signed to add to retained squad members from last season. I am sure that, like myself, you are all desperate to see the team in a competitive environment with a real competition for places which we have not enjoyed to the same extent for some years. Steve McNulty is a fantastic signing for the club. He oozes charisma and professionalism and his decision to join us is an indication of the direction in which the club is heading.
As we approach the commencement of the season, and to maintain the momentum, it will be essential for our supporters and sponsors to part with their hard-earned money in order to retain this squad. Please ensure that, if you have not already done so, that you make an application as soon as possible for your season ticket by contacting Brian Cross at the club.
In addition, Steve Conneely is accepting payments for player sponsorship and match day programme advertising. In view of the cashflow difficulties that we have faced, I will be asking all supporters and 60 Club members to continue to maintain donations as far as is possible in these difficult times. Every little helps us! Gate receipts alone will not sustain the football club. We all have to contribute more.
Our balance sheet remains strong and continues to improve. We have redeemed the secured loan on the premises utilising monies on more preferential terms. Our stadium is now completely debt free save for the small overdraft afforded to us by the bank. The Time to Pay arrangement has ended and our other HMRC obligations have been settled to date. Our V.A.T. liability from prior to COVID-19, which was due in March 2021, has also been settled well in advance. The Board thought long and hard about these decisions but they were unanimous.
The negative side to this, and the payment of our ongoing running costs, has meant that our cash reserves have now been utilised, albeit very wisely. Our monthly commitments have naturally been reduced. However, we need your continued support. Many thanks to Jeff and Jim Powell and all involved in their work with the Wincham Park Development Fund. Our JustGiving page will remain open all season for one-off donations. Please donate if you cannot pledge money on a monthly basis. This again will be crucial to assisting in fundraising.
Be in no doubt that whilst we were in a very difficult situation at the beginning of last season, from which we have recovered very well, COVID-19 has presented a new and different set of challenges. Cash is King! We need it to continue at this level. My thanks to Witton Albion Juniors and to Alan Jackson who has already obtained approximately 350 junior members for next season. A sterling effort when one considers the lack of exposure to watching any pre-season friendlies. The loss of income from these games has been felt.
Finally, my personal thanks to Gordon Knop who has given 35 years service to the club. Many of you will know him as the amiable front of house who monitors entry into the club on a Saturday afternoon. Also, a special mention to Alan Spruce, who despite moaning about it nearly every day, has maintained the pitch for a period of 42 years! Outstanding! Both of these great servants have been made Vice Presidents of the club in recognition of their long service.
Having worked on the ground staff with Sprucie for a good few years i can attest to his whinging - as can most referees have been to Witton Albion! That said Witton Albion FC has never had a greater servant and his appointment as a vice president is entirely and thoroughly merited. We noted his 40 plus years as Groundsman a couple of years back and this appointment just seals his status as a WAFC legend and deserving of a picture on the legends wall really soon !! Well done Sprucie !!! Players come and go, but this guy lives and breathes our football club. so hats off to a truly remarkable bloke !
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