Chief executive John Croot provides an update on various matters affecting the club…
Firstly, I hope you are well at this challenging time for everyone due to the pandemic and the impending lockdown. I thought it would be an appropriate time to update supporters on certain points.
Firstly, we were all very disappointed with the news that we would be forced to replay our FA Cup tie against Stockport County. The players showed great character to come from behind and win in a penalty shoot-out and I feel for them and the management team that they have to go back to Edgeley Park and do it all again.
At the root of the issue was the fact that the club was without a football secretary for three months prior to the takeover. We made the appointment of a football secretary a priority after taking over and were then faced with a backlog of contracts and paperwork which needed to be addressed. To compound the matter, a technical issue involving an email relating to Jordan Cropper’s registration arose.
We launched a robust defence when facing an FA panel and they took into account the mitigating circumstances by agreeing to allow the tie to be replayed. On behalf of the board, I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone connected with the club and pledge to put procedures in place to ensure there is no similar problem in the future. It is something that should not have happened, but we have to accept our punishment, move on and learn from this. We now turn our attention to the replay at Stockport and hope we can follow up Saturday’s win at Yeovil with another victory on the road.
National League Financial Support
We are one of 11 clubs who have joined forces to ask the National League board to reconsider the way that compensation via National Lottery funding is distributed. The funding is for losses incurred as a direct result of the decision to prevent supporters attending matches due to the impact of Covid-19. In extreme cases this resulted in some clubs receiving around five times as much funding – per absent spectator – as other clubs, which is patently unfair. It is hoped that the distribution of funds will be revised to make it a more realistic allocation.
Supporters are understandably concerned about the club’s financial position at a time when revenue has been affected by matters beyond our control as a result of the pandemic. We can assure everyone that financial plans and projections are in place to ensure the security of the club. We are in a stronger position than many clubs in our division and we are working hard to develop various income streams.
New Chief Scout
I am delighted that we have been able to secure the services of Paul Lemon as our new chief scout and I wish him well in his new role. A new player recruitment system is being put in place – which was one of the Community Trust’s key objectives when taking over the club – and Paul will play an important role in this. Paul’s passion for the role shines through and his commitment to the club is unquestioned. He will be working to a remit regarding player recruitment, in consultation with John Pemberton and the board.
At a time when supporters are unable to attend matches, the live streams are a way of enabling them to follow the team. We receive around 80% of the money generated from our streams and we have budgeted for around 1,500 streams purchased per match, which equates to an audience of around 4,000.
Some of the money generously donated by fans recently is being spent on equipment and software to further improve the quality of the coverage. The income generated from the streams provides the club with an important source of funds. The home clubs keep the money from live streams so I would urge all supporters to pay for a live stream. We are also looking at ways of attracting commercial revenue via the live streams. Any company interested in finding out about the sponsorship/advertising packages available should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We held a number of Q&A sessions at the stadium before the start of the season and the plan was to hold another one soon. Unfortunately, however, the new restrictions in place put paid to those plans. We are keen to engage in regular dialogue with supporters and we will be looking to hold further Q&A sessions once everything is ‘back to normal’.
I would like to thank everyone who has signed up for Spire Lotto since the Community Trust took over the club. A popular topic when we held the Q&As centred around the lack of a direct debit option for Spire Lotto payments. We took on board the feedback and moved to address the issue. I am pleased to say that it will soon be possible to sign up online for a direct debit, using a portal accessed via the club website. It costs just £1 a week to take part in Spire Lotto and it is possible to pay for multiple entries. There are many prizes given away each week with a jackpot of up to £10,000!
Free Meals Initiative
I am sure that many of you will have seen the publicity surrounding the Community Trust’s free meals initiative last week. The decision was taken to offer free food at lunchtime to children who qualify for free school meals and the initiative was a major success. Hundreds of meals were handed out in Chester’s Den and one parent’s tweet, thanking the Trust for feeding her two young children, was trending on Twitter, resulting in Marcus Rashford tweeting his thanks and various media sources following up the story. There was a feature on ITV Calendar and interviews with the Daily Mirror and BBC Radio Sheffield.
Keith Jackson and the team at the Trust deserve great credit for the work they have done. This has been followed up by Chester’s Christmas Toy Appeal, further demonstrating the great work being done by the Trust to help those in need and highlights how the club is at the very heart of the community.
Your support is very much appreciated. Stay well and stay safe.