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Chester FC wishes to update City Fans United members and supporters in relation to the National League North play-offs.
On Friday 19th June, our Club and the other 11 to have qualified for the National League North and South play-offs took part in a conference call with the National League and The FA.
We are sure supporters will understand this is a complex situation for both the clubs and the league given the need for Covid-19 testing, footballing considerations as player registrations expired in May and the logistical arrangements of staging matches safely.
The requirements for competing in the play-offs were set out to clubs for the first time on Friday and as a board we have spent a considerable amount of time over the weekend reviewing this information and working through the challenges and potential solutions.
While the Club took the decision to furlough the playing squad and coaching staff in preparation for this eventuality, there are still a number of practical and financial considerations to be taken into account, including but not limited to:
- The Club is required to develop a thorough Covid risk assessment and stadium management plan in the unlikely event we are required to host a game in the play-offs. This plan includes the appointment of a Covid Officer and Medical Officer and must be approved by both the Safety Advisory Group and the National League.
- The Club must develop a viable Covid testing process for all players and coaching staff in order to participate in the play-offs. These tests must meet clinical testing standards and the provider must be certified and approved by the National League Medical Officer. As testing is required weekly for a minimum of a three week period, this is a significant financial cost for clubs.
- We continue to work with the management team around the development of Covid compliant training sessions in line with FA and Government guidance. This includes the use of small groups, non-contact training at stage one, regular sterilisation of equipment and sessions of limited duration held at a suitable venue.
- The Club has held provisional conversations with the playing squad and coaching staff regarding the contractual wage and bonus structures which would ordinarily be in place for the play-offs. This will enable the Club to reach a clear understanding of the costs and potential liabilities of taking part. Although the players have been undertaking personal training regimes at home, participation in the play-offs will require them to return from furlough leave for training and matches which has potential cost implications for the Club.
- We continue to engage with the National League regarding several outstanding queries around player registration including the use of loan players, in particular those players whose contracts have expired and those whose loan spells have come to an end, to ensure these players will be available should clubs participate.
The Board is continuing to work tirelessly on this matter with relevant stakeholders and wishes to reiterate to supporters our desire to uphold the integrity of the competition and to ensure the players, management and fans, have the opportunity to finish the 2019/20 season on the pitch. However, we cannot risk the financial security of the Club and this will be paramount to our decision.
We understand this is an emotive issue and we are committed to being open and transparent with members and supporters and will provide further updates as soon as we are able to.
Thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding.
Chester FC can provide a further update to supporters and City Fans United members in relation to the club’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertain footballing landscape.
The human cost of the crisis has been devastating and thoughts of everyone at the club are with those who have suffered loss. The pandemic will have a lasting impact for us all and the challenges facing football clubs may seem inconsequential in comparison, but as a Board we must focus on our responsibilities as your elected representatives.
Without question, the coronavirus outbreak poses a significant threat to football clubs at all levels and indeed the game as a whole.
The Board is committed to safeguarding the football club and ensuring it remains financially sustainable so we can overcome these challenges together and prepare for the safe return of football. This commitment means the Board must be prepared to make difficult but necessary decisions if required.
Complicating the current situation is the continued uncertainty over how the 2019/20 campaign will be concluded and the prospect of a potential play-off campaign. We are sure supporters will appreciate that while this remains a possibility, it has a bearing on the Board’s decisions and actions. To this end, we have decided it is not appropriate to publish a retained list until the 2019/20 season has been decided.
We do not know when football will resume, but it is clear that for clubs such as ours playing behind closed doors is neither practical nor financially sustainable. When crowds can return, it is likely social distancing measures will limit attendances and in turn reduce matchday income, the biggest source of revenue for most clubs.
The Board’s immediate focus has been on stabilising the club following the suspension of the season and initial loss of income, but we are now developing longer term plans to ensure we are prepared for whatever happens in the next 12 months and beyond. This is a complex process as it includes planning for several different scenarios linked to when football might return with budgets for each of them.
We understand some fans may be worried about the future or concerned about the impact of Stuart Murphy’s decision to end his association with the Club, but we want to assure you that we can come through this period together and emerge in a position to continue being a competitive force on the pitch.
Football finances at our level will look very different in the future and, while we must navigate the immediate challenges over the next 12 months, we believe this will ultimately be to the advantage of those clubs who operate sustainably.
As a club we are in a fortunate position: we have strong relationships with key stakeholders and sponsors; and we have a fan base filled with passion and enthusiasm that provides unwavering support.
It is a reality of supporter ownership that financial contributions from fans are vital and every penny the club receives is appreciated and benefits our club.
In the next week we will be launching a new crowdfunding scheme to help the first team budget for the 2020/21 season. We have listened to members and observed what other clubs have done, and we know many fans wish to help the managers deliver what everyone wants: an exciting, successful and talented team that makes supporters proud. If you are able to, this is your opportunity to pledge or donate to supplement the playing budget and make a massive difference to our club’s preparations for the new season.
Please find below an update on the most recent steps the Board has taken in an effort to navigate through this difficult period:
- We continue to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and the majority of club staff remain on furlough leave with some rotation as operations dictate. Given the play-offs remain a possibility; we have re-engaged most of the first team squad on short-term contracts until 27th June. Furloughed employees will now receive 80% of their salaries up to a maximum of £2500 per month and the Board wishes to thank the players, non-playing and non-football staff for their agreement to ensure we can preserve the club’s resources and protect roles. The CJRS has been extended until the end of October although government support will be tapered and we will continue to review our use of the scheme.
- We have received a Coronavirus Business Support Grant (£25,000) through Flintshire County Council and continue to take steps to manage ongoing running costs and annual outgoings such as utilities and insurances. We are grateful to those companies who have agreed payment holidays and payment plans.
- We continue to engage with the National League and fellow member clubs regarding the pandemic’s impact on the game, the options for completing the 2019/20 season and arrangements for the 2020/21 campaign and safe return of football.
- We are hugely grateful to our season ticket holders who waived the offer of a partial refund following the cancellation of the 2019/20 campaign. The Board is acutely aware of the impact of the crisis on the economy and processed a small number of refund requests; however this represented less than 2.5% of the total potential liabilities. Thank you for your incredible support.
- The Board has been strengthened with the co-option of Adam Langan until the AGM later this year. Adam is a lifelong supporter of the Blues and serves as a councillor for Newton and Hoole on Cheshire West & Chester Council.
- We have received more than 1300 responses to the initial consultation on the draft strategic plan for Chester FC produced last month. The depth and volume of feedback received is hugely valuable and this will now be reviewed in detail to further develop the plan in preparation for the next phase of the consultation.
- The Community Trust has maintained its work in the local area to assist vulnerable supporters and residents during the pandemic, including partnership working with other local charities and agencies to collect prescriptions and delivering hot meals.
As stated above, the Fundraising Working Group has been developing a new crowdfunder scheme to boost the first team budget for next season. It is important this scheme is properly developed to ensure it achieves its purpose.
The group has been strengthened with several new members and has been meeting regularly to explore other ways to raise funds to help the club remain sustainable while there is no football being played.
The pandemic is having a very real impact on people’s finances and we know some of our supporters will be struggling. Whatever financial assistance you can give our club really does help and this is not something we take for granted. If you have ideas or suggestions for fundraising, please email email@example.com.
In the past fortnight groundsman Mike Barrow has been able to start the annual pitch renovations using the £4000 raised through the virtual matchdays. Mike has asked us to express his sincere gratitude to everyone who contributed.
Last month we launched the first retro Chester City shirt last month and received almost 300 pre-orders, raising a further £4000 for our club. Claim Your Turf has brought in more than £1200 in a few days and the club shop volunteers are running a flash sale and have also launched branded face masks, bringing in further valuable funds. Fundraising is a team effort and you are the key components of that team so thank you again to everyone who has donated.
CFU memberships for 2019/20 expired on 31st May so if you haven’t yet renewed or wish to sign up as a new member, now is the perfect time. The cost to be an owner of our club remains just £12 per year and you can renew online at www.cityfansunited.com/join-city-fans-united. We are delighted the number of members paying via Direct Debit continues to grow as this can significantly increase revenue for our club and makes future renewals much simpler. To set up a Direct Debit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claim Your Turf
From as little as £25 you can sponsor a piece of the hallowed turf at the Deva Stadium for the 2020/21 season and raise funds for the club’s Squadbuilder campaign. Claim Your Turf allows supporters or local businesses to have their name, photograph, message or logo printed in the matchday programme for each home league fixture, on the Chester FC website and on the wall of the Blues Bar at the end of the season. You’ll also be invited to a special end of season function. Email email@example.com to Claim Your Turf.
We have received a number of requests for season ticket renewals and sales. Your support is greatly appreciated and this is of course a key income stream for the club. However, we believe the sensible approach is to wait until we have some clarity about football’s return including the league structure, season length, number of fixtures and potential crowds, before starting season ticket sales. Rest assured, as soon as we have received the appropriate level of information we will update supporters.
Given the pace at which this unprecedented situation continues to develop, the Board remains in constant dialogue and is holding virtual meetings at least once a week, as well as having regular discussions with key partners and stakeholders, including MBNA and the council.
We will endeavour to provide further updates to members and supporters as regularly as possible and thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding.
Keep safe and we look forward to seeing you back at our home soon.
Our City, Our Community, Our Club
The Board of City Fans United
City Fans United are delighted to learn that former Chester City and Chester FC goalkeeper, John Danby, has become the latest inductee in to the Hall of Fame.
The Chester Former Players Association, who present nominations for the Hall of Fame to the club board, released the news that Danby, who featured in Chester City’s later years and the reformed Chester FC’s early years, had been granted the accolade that is shared by the likes of the late Gary Talbot, Daryl Clare, Stuart Rimmer, and George Horan to name but a few.
The release reads, “Chester’s record-breaking goalkeeper John Danby, a player whose career with the Blues stretched over both versions of the football club, is to join the club’s Hall of Fame.
Danby was originally signed by Mark Wright for Chester City from Kidderminster Harriers in 2006, making 165 league appearances before the club folded in 2010. He was ever-present in two of those campaigns, as well as the ill-fated 2009-10 season, including Chester City’s final match, against Ebbsfleet in February 2010. Such was his consistency that he missed only five league games in those four seasons, breaking Mike Metcalf’s 40-year-old record for the most consecutive appearances with 128 and extending that tally to 133. He was voted Player of the Season in 2006-07.
He signed for Eastwood Town after the demise of the original club but 18 months later answered the call from Neil Young to return to the Deva Stadium for the second campaign of the newly-formed Chester FC. He stepped into a team which had just won the EvoStik North in its first season and played a major part in the club’s next two consecutive championships, the EvoStik Premier in 2012 and the Conference North in 2013. He set another club record, for the most consecutive clean sheets held for over 30 years by Grenville Millington, going eight games without conceding a goal in the 2011-12 season. That achievement helped him win the non-league Goalkeeper of the Year award.
Having played nearly 300 games for both versions of the club, Danby left Chester in the summer of 2014 when the club’s daytime training schedule meant he couldn’t combine it with his other career as a personal trainer. He spent last season with Flint Town United.
Chair of the Former Players Association Alan Tarbuck said: ‘John has a fantastic record at Chester – it isn’t just the number of games, it’s the quality of his performances as well. He is an outstanding goalkeeper and a great professional, and we were lucky to have him representing Chester. He played a big part in the new venture of Chester FC and I would like to congratulate him, on behalf of all the former players, on being elected to the Hall of Fame.’
The formal presentation to John, which would normally take place on the pitch at a home game, will inevitably have to wait until football resumes.”
City Fans United would like to congratulate John on this award, and look forward to seeing him receive the official recognition on the pitch at the Deva Stadium in the near future.
You can read more about the Chester Former Players Association here
It’s that time again for City Fans United memberships to be renewed as the current annual membership period starts on Monday 1st June. If you have already renewed your membership for the 2020-21 membership period (1st June 2020-31st May 2021) then we thank you for doing so, and for your continued support. Members already on a direct debit will see their membership auto renew.
To renew, or sign up for the first time please follow the instructions below:
Now is a great time to set up a Direct Debit to ensure that your membership auto-renews in the future. You will also be helping the club at the same time with extra revenue that it needs given the current circumstances.
We will shortly be rolling out an incentive programme which is tailored to those contributing monthly amounts on Direct Debit, from £5 per month upwards. Details to follow on this scheme shortly but you can get ahead of the game and set the Direct Debit up straight away.
To set up a monthly Direct Debit for your CFU membership, please email firstname.lastname@example.org who will then be able to arrange this easily with you.
Your CFU membership will then continue to renew on the 1st June each year going forward making it extremely simple to manage.
Additional contributions on top of the annual £12 fee will be classed as donations to City Fans United.
You can of course join or renew your membership online with the flat £12 annual membership fee, via our online link below:
We are continuing to process CFU membership renewals or new membership application forms that have been posted to the club, but please bear in mind we have a small number of volunteers processing these at present and appreciate your patience in dealing with those.
Membership cards will be produced in due course.
Thank you once again for your support and understanding at this difficult time for everyone, and we look forward to a point when we can once again cheer on The Blues at the Deva Stadium.
Director of Membership & Fan Engagement
The Seals Lottery Draws have been suspended due to the Coronavirus lockdown meaning those who administer the lottery scheme cannot access the systems.