For all of us, this has been an extraordinary year and one we leave behind with mixed emotions.
We have lost friends, colleagues and loved ones in such difficult circumstances, we have lost our freedom to move around the country, we have lost the ability to trade as companies and the result of that will inevitably mean the loss of jobs.
Through all of this we have been directed to play football, but not a penny has been given to the clubs, whilst we are entertaining the country, from the government. Promises from the EFL in July, of an imminent rescue package if crowds were not allowed in stadiums, came in the form of a handout from the Premier League (who in my opinion should not be holding the league together with handouts) this month, five months later and after millions of pounds of costs were incurred by the football clubs. This £50m bailout is not a bailout, it’s an interim payment - that is all - and the real test is still to come, as those clubs with cash flow difficulties ask for help to get to the end of the season.
This is not about wealth of owners, this is about cashflow and the pandemic hitting businesses since March has meant that we are one of those that have had no income post-March this year, but have had all the costs to pay. We have managed to ensure that we get through most of the season, but we should have never been promised monies to end last season and then restart this season without any funding in place.
I believe that if you ask most football clubs in the league whether they would have completed last season and started this season, without funds until December, you may well have got a very different answer and maybe even a delay in the league starting.
So how to sum up this year? Disappointing, heart breaking and devastating, and I for one just want to see the back of it, but the challenges we will have in the coming year will not be any easier, so we battle on and I can assure you that we will fight for everything, both on and off the pitch.
Football is almost impossible to organise without risk under the current circumstances and the club has been exceptional in its attitude towards this and I want to thank all of our employees for their continued efforts. We are not Covid or Pandemic specialists - we will do our best but will make mistakes, however the response to the challenge has been excellent and we continue to be diligent and create an employee safe environment.
Those challenges have been very apparent on the pitch and I would also like to thank Neil, his coaches and backroom staff, along with all the players, for doing an amazing job in impossible circumstances. We do find ourselves flirting with the bottom half of the table and consistency is extraordinarily difficult, as you can see by all the results in the division, not just ours, but we will continue to try our hardest to deliver the results necessary to remain a Football League club.
I would like to thank all of those services who have worked tirelessly to ensure our safety and in particular all of those health workers who risk their lives day in and day out to protect us. We must never forget their continued sacrifice, which for some has meant the loss of their life.
I really hope that the next year offers us a road back to normality and so, from my family and all at the football club, we wish you a safe and better 2021.