Saints getting prepared for a ‘minefield’ few months as they count the cost of coronavirus

St Albans City team photo ahead of the 2019-2020 season. Picture: LEIGH PAGE

St Albans City team photo ahead of the 2019-2020 season. Picture: LEIGH PAGE - Credit: Archant

St Albans City secretary Leigh Page says the next few months will be “a minefield” for the football club as they try to survive the coronavirus lockdown.

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Ground View.
Picture: Karyn Haddon

St Albans City V Chippenham Town - Ground View. Picture: Karyn Haddon - Credit: Archant

The National League called a halt to the season last week, meaning all remaining fixtures will not now be played. The original hope had been that the season could resume and reach a natural conclusion.

But even though what happens next is still to be decided, with the league putting the viable options, believed to be null and void or points-per game, to the clubs to vote on, there seems little doubt that City will remain in National League South.

That, however, doesn’t help the club who have no income coming in and still have outgoings that need paid for.

Page said: “The necessary restrictions trying to control the impact of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of how long these will be in force, is adversely impacting businesses across the spectrum and football clubs are certainly not immune to this.

“It would not surprise me if a number fail during this time across the pyramid.

“This presents a number of challenges in keeping the club running with a significant loss in income from match-days and events planned through to the end of the season.

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“We have agreed a plan of maintenance and renovation to ensure the playing surface is ready to start the 2020-21 season, whenever that is, and our contractors completed the first stage last week.

“The Premier League has advanced the annual solidarity payment of £125m to clubs in the EFL and the National League and we will receive £13,636 less deduction from the National League.

“While this is most definitely helpful with the cash flow of the club today, it will leave us with a shortfall in September when we would have normally received this payment.

“It’s been difficult but we will find ways to negotiate the club through the minefield of the next few months.”

He said the club would have preferred to finish the season but admitted that when it became evident that scenario was not possible, then protecting the public has to take precedence.

“I strongly believe that everyone would obviously love to conclude their full quota of fixtures,” he said. “That said, the safety of the general public is paramount and the league really has no other option.

“Usually the majority of our income is generated on a match day and opting to finish the season writes off a huge amount of revenue for us but even thinking about voting to continue and staging those games with so many desperately ill some of who may be friends and supporters is a non-starter.

“We have an invaluable group of volunteers working behind the scenes to ensure the club continue to develop our preparations for when we can kick a football once again.”