It’s been a few weeks since you all had an update on what’s been happening at the club, so I thought I’d give you a flavour of some of the current issues.
Firstly, many thanks to all of you who so kindly donated to our recent floodlight improvement and other groundworks appeal. The final tally was £11,830 raised and, taking additional account of one or two very welcome donations from other sources, the Board will now be focusing on how to invest the money as efficiently and as effectively as possible, and we will outline our priority spending decisions (beyond the pre-planned floodlights work) in due course. In respect of the floodlights we are working with suppliers on a couple of options at the moment, the favourite currently being an additional light on each pylon and an upgrade of existing bulbs and reflectors. I appreciate times are hard for lots of us currently so to have over 200 individuals donate is absolutely fantastic and shows the extend of our wonderful support.
Many of you will have seen the government’s recent announcement that a number of pilot sporting events take place over the next few weeks with a view to the reopening of sports venues, with social distancing measures in place, from October 2020. The full statement can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/pilots-announced-for-return-of-spectators-to-elite-sports-events . The club has been undertaking an assessment of the risks associated with a return to football at the QEII Stadium, taking account of the FA’s guidelines on the return of outdoor competitive grassroots football (see http://www.thefa.com/news/2020/jul/17/grassroots-guidance-for-competitive-football-restart-in-england-170720 ).
Although the guidance suggests supporters will not be back in stadiums until October, the Isthmian League has a proposed provisional start date of 19th September so we must plan for that date until we hear otherwise. Dialogue will also continue with the Isthmian League on the next steps, the league have been very clear that we will not commence until supporters are allowed back in to stadiums and I’m sure fixtures will not be announced until we have this clarity. We will continue to update you as and when we have more details.
In connection with a potential restart, the results of a survey that the Football Supporters Association and Non-League Paper had undertaken were announced at the weekend (see https://www.thenonleaguefootballpaper.com/features/vanarama/31126/the-non-league-paper-is-out-as-thousands-have-their-say-on-restart/ ), and 77.2% of those surveyed said that they would return from the first game back with a hypothetical October start date. A further 18% expect to be back within three months, while 4.8% said it would take more than six months for them to return, or that they possibly wouldn’t return at all. All of this is encouraging news, but there is, of course, a long way to go and a lot of work behind the scenes to be completed before the club can make any sort of definitive announcements.
The first team squad are due to begin training on Saturday and a number of key precautions are in place to ensure government guidelines are adhered to, including appropriate social distancing and track and trace protocols. As ever at this time of year, there will be some squad comings and goings – the departure of striker Ken Charles has already been announced and Glenn Wilson will also be leaving to play closer to his home in Sussex.
Having spoken to Andy, I am confident there will be plenty of good news to report at the right time as the 2020-21 squad takes shape, and he will be aiming to bring you all up to date within the next week or two. We will, like many clubs, be operating with a smaller budget but I’m sure we can deliver a side to challenge at the right end of the table again. It is planned to arrange a number of friendly matches behind closed doors in advance of any competitive resumption and match secretary John Dolan is working with the management team to secure a set of fixtures that set us up in the right way to start the season in the best possible shape.
You may have seen that we have decided not to field an Under 23 side during 2020-21. This decision was not taken lightly, and it followed careful consideration around important issues such as pitch use, associated finances and the strong likelihood of a much shorter season with fewer midweek date options available. I can reassure you all that the club is still very much committed to the development of young talent, and this has been demonstrated by our Academy being established this summer. Once our scholars move into their second year in 2021-22, we will review our set-up again in order to best provide optimum pathways into senior football.
In other news the Board (who have been meeting fortnightly during the lockdown), having worked within the constraints of a mothball budget for a number of months, have now approved a provisional budget for 2020-21, have approved a new-look website (through which you may be reading this message!) and are looking at ways in which it can help foster an improved environment to encourage greater diversity and inclusion around the club.
Finally, there is scheduled to be a drive-in cinema event on Enfield Playing Fields next month (the club are working with the council on this) – see https://www.skiddle.com/whats-on/Enfield/Enfield-Playing-Fields/Drive-in-Cinema/13802936/ for details; you can order non-medical Town facemasks via https://www.theamyverse.com/etfc ; and you can help Enfield Town FC Community Sports Development Ltd in resuming its work in encouraging sporting activity for all in the borough once it is safe to do by signing up to Amazon Smile. The same products, prices and services as the Amazon you know, with 0.5% of the net costs of your order donated by Amazon to help with charitable work. Details of how to set up an account or amend your current account are here: https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/chpf/about?ie=UTF8&ref_=smi_ge_sr_learn_raas , and you can select Enfield Town FC Community Sports Development Ltd from a drop-down menu.
As soon as anything firm is agreed around what we all want to see – Town teams back out on the pitch – there will be announcements for members and other supporters about logistics. Following the success of the Zoom link with members in May, a date for a follow up event will be announced at an optimum time.
Thanks once again for your undiminished support and understanding and, as ever, a particular thank you to those of you who are continuing to perform background tasks to keep the club going in our current situation until such time as matches and other events can begin.
Although the club’s floodlight appeal timeframe has passed, supporters can still donate to help the club through these exceptionally difficult times, preferably via a BACS transfer to: ETFC Ltd, Barclays Bank, Sort Code 20-45-45, Account Number 43222942. Please mark any transfer with your name and the word ‘donation’. Memberships and season tickets are of course already available – please see: https://etfc.london/calling-all-town-supporters
Take care everyone, and I’ll be in touch as soon as there are any further updates.
* since the Chairman’s update, the constitution of the Isthmian League Premier Division has been announced as unchanged for 2020-21. For full national league system alloactions see https://www.isthmian.co.uk/national-league-system-allocations-2020-21-62746