Update from Aggborough including a Q&A with interim CEO, Neil Male
By Matty Paddock - 19/03/2020
Posted 10 months ago
Kidderminster Harriers can today issue the following update on how it is handling and managing the global pandemic of COVID-19.
Like all football clubs and businesses, the events of the last few weeks and those that will follow in the coming months are having a significant impact on us.
While the club’s Board is working tirelessly to ensure the long-term safety and security of the club as a business and as a treasured part of the community remains intact, we wish to make clear that our biggest priority is the health and wellbeing of its staff, players, and supporters.
With that said, to maintain our level of openness and communication with supporters, we have compiled the following answers to questions being frequently asked of us in the hope the information will prove useful.
The club would like to again reiterate the need for everyone to take care of themselves and those around them, and to follow Government health advice, the most up-to-date of which can be found online.
Club Interim Chief Executive, Neil Male, spent Wednesday at Aggborough this week meeting with staff and establishing their own personal circumstances and a way of working forward for each of them in line with their health and wellbeing.
We took the time to ask Neil a series of pertinent questions in relation to COVID-19 and its impact on the club – these are outlined below
When are matches likely resume?
In line with the Premier League and the EFL, the National League took the decision to suspend its season earlier this week until at least 3 April. This means that, as things stand, our next fixture will be the home tie against Bradford (Park Avenue) at Aggborough Stadium on Saturday, 4 April at 3pm. However, this is clearly a very fluid situation, and, particularly in light of the further announcement from The FA, Premier League and EFL on Thursday, that decision may well be reviewed.
Is there a danger the season won’t finish?
In our discussions with the FA and National League, there has, as yet, been no suggestion that the remainder of the season will be ‘cancelled’. As things stand, the aim is to resume and complete the season as soon as is possible but, again, this will be dictated by the wider circumstances across the country which is evolving constantly.
The FA confirmed on Thursday that a broad rule stating that the season must end by June 1 has been suspending, meaning the season can be extended indefinitely.
What about the postponed matches?
As we speak, we will have four out-standing matches by the time the season is due to resume on 4 April. These are the matches against Leamington (A), AFC Telford United (H), Guiseley (H) and Gloucester (A).
There are no confirmed, new dates for any of those fixtures and, naturally, their placing in the calendar will largely depend on when the season resumes.
What are the players doing at this time?
As with all of our staff, the safety and health of our players is paramount. As things stand, they will be back in training as a squad on Monday, where they will maintain their fitness levels in readiness for the resumption of the season. Naturally, this will only be the case so long as Government advice deems it appropriate and the situation may need to be reviewed in due course. In the meantime and as is the norm, each player is continuing to work on their own individual fitness programme.
Is Aggborough Stadium still open?
No. From today (Thursday), Aggborough Stadium, the Ticket Office and Club Shop are all closed to the public until further notice. As of today, the Harriers Arms does remain open, however this is another situation that may have to change very shortly. If we are advised that such environments have to be closed to the public, we will inform people in turn.
Can I still contact the club?
Yes, the club will maintain a level of operational capacity for as long as it is deemed possible and safe to do so. This means that you are still able to contact the club by telephone or e-mail if you have any questions or concerns with regards to matches, tickets, private bookings or anything else. The club’s contact number is 01562 823 931 while e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that to ensure the health and safety of all personnel, calls and e-mails are being dealt with by a skeleton staff on rotation and, as such, there may be a short delay in answering any more specific enquiries.
Can I be refunded for tickets or hospitality bookings made for postponed matches?
As things stand, the season and the four matches above have been postponed rather than cancelled – as such, all tickets and bookings remain valid for the re-arranged fixtures. Anyone with any specific questions relating to an existing Aggborough Suite hospitality booking can contact Helen.
What is the financial impact of COVID-19 for the club?
There is no denying the fact that the present situation presents real dangers and concerns for all businesses, not least football clubs, whose key source of income in match day receipts has been paused for at least the next few weeks. This will, unfortunately, cause problems for the club – primarily in respect of cashflow. The Board are committed to doing whatever it can to safeguard the immediate future of Kidderminster Harriers but accept that the situation is clearly unique and an unknown.
Is there financial support available to the club?
The Government issued advice earlier this week in respect of Business Rates relief and possible grants and loans that may be available to small businesses. This is being reviewed by Richard Lane and myself as a matter of urgency so we can ascertain the ways in which this might be able to support us in the immediate future.
In addition, we have been asked by the National League to outline the specific financial challenges that will be presented by COVID-19, with a deadline of Friday. However, being proactive as a club, we have already submitted this with a substantial amount of detail and information so that they, the Premier League, the FA and in turn the Government are aware of the full picture of the situation we – and may other clubs – find themselves in. We appreciate that the National League are acting quickly on behalf of clubs to try and establish what support may be available, but would call on the FA and the Premier League to do what it can to ensure that football at this level survives. There are incredible riches at the top level of the game; for example, the current Premier League television rights are worth around £9.2 billion, with each club in the Premier League earning a minimum of £30 million a season from this avenue alone. Meanwhile, many non-league clubs live and budget to extremely tight margins and as such, an event such as this pandemic can be catastrophic.
What can fans do to help?
At this early stage of what is a national emergency, our message would be for supporters of KHFC to focus on themselves and their health – and that of their families and loved ones, particularly at a time where money will be tight for many. There are small ways in which supporters can, if they wish, support the club – including the Goalden Gate Lottery for instance – but, at this time, our urgency in respect of obtaining financial support is being concentrated elsewhere.
We would, however, ask that any businesses in the local area or beyond who feel they are in a strong enough position support the club at this time, perhaps through sponsorship, please get in touch with Commercial Manager Paul Biggerstaff.
Where can I keep in touch with further updates?
The club will continue to update supporters with the latest information on events at Aggborough, and any further developments as communicated by the FA and National League. We’d ask that they continue to monitor the club website and social media channels.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I would like to reinforce our message that this is an incredibly challenging and, for many, a very worrying time. There is uncertainty and fear, and our only plea to supporters at this moment is to take good care of their health, and that of those around them. The country faces massive challenges, and we have to face that together. By looking after one another, hopefully we’ll be back watching football and enjoying everything that comes with it soon enough. For now, that has to take a backseat.
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