A new season and new hopes, never more so than this Saturday, will enable us to reset and start again, but sadly on the back of a pandemic that has devastated our lives.
My first comments must address the loss of lives and the effect this will have on families forever, so my family and I send our heartfelt thoughts to all those fans who have had to cope with the tragic death of a family member, friend or colleague during the pandemic.
We launched a very special football kit yesterday in memory of Ray Clemence, a person I was privileged to call my friend and someone we all recognise as an ambassador for football and a vice president of Scunthorpe United. Our thoughts go out to his family and the football club will continue to support cancer charities with the current Cancer Research UK shirt sponsorship, but also the Salford home game this season will be dedicated to Ray and PCUK with Ray’s family as our guests.
Saturday will give the club the opportunity to start again. It happens every year doesn’t it, but more so after the trials and tribulations of previous seasons and we begin this next season as a football league club, with hope and anticipation.
The team has begun to take shape and the ability to have a pre-season, minimally affected by Covid, has given us the opportunity to have a stronger preparation. Having stability within the management structure, plus fresh faces both on the pitch and within the backroom staff, will give us the belief and strength to bounce back and give you, the fans, something to cheer about, as you return to support your local team.
It is so important that you continue to come through the gate and watch football, as without fans supporting the club will not be able to grow as we would like to, but I also understand we have to try and entertain you as well as gaining points!
Neil has identified the players he wanted to bring to the club and we haven’t really lost out on many of the options that were identified. I will continue to support him fully in his quest to put his mark on this football club.
Our embargo has been reported in many guises, but I can assure you that we needed to accept the EFL loan to not only get us through the cash flow issues of the pandemic but to cover the lack of fans through the whole of last season. I can’t really tell you too much about the mechanics of the loan but I have covered it fully with a sponsorship deal for the stadium and the embargo is only temporary, as it will be lifted next season regardless of what is paid back and if we can pay it off earlier we will. There is no cost to the football club for taking this loan and the club has now returned to a break even model, with the main loan removed from the club earlier this year. The club is strong and operates within its means, thus removing risk and danger to its future. The embargo has very little effect on our ability to pay players, as our budget is well within any limits imposed by the embargo and structured around what the club can afford in relation to its turnover. Our player numbers remain in line with EFL rules and we have the ability to bring in loans and players if needed.
We are also continuing to develop the surrounding site so as to increase revenues back to the club, including new training facilities and continued investment in our infrastructure. We continue to concentrate on our playing staff by developing younger players through our academy and our strategy going forward looks like it is beginning to work with several young players in our squad for the coming season. We wish those young players all the best as they begin their professional careers and this will be the way the club will work, so as to provide the best possible stability and security for the football club now and in the future.
I can only reiterate my thanks to all the staff who have worked tirelessly, under difficult conditions, to keep the club going during the last two covid affected seasons and can assure the fans that I am as committed, as I have always been, to this football club. We wish Neil, his backroom staff, the players and all the people that make this club tick a safe and enjoyable season.
I will endeavour to do my best for you, as your Chairman.