05:34PM, Thursday 01 October 2020
Slough Town will be looking for the Government to flesh out the details of its financial support package for National League clubs ahead of their FA Cup second qualifying round clash with Dartford on Saturday.
The Rebels are expected to travel to Princes Park for the clash, with some home fans expected to watch the game on a live stream inside a bar at the ground while the action takes place just a few yards away from them.
Joint managers Jon Underwood and Neil Baker did have some reservations about playing the game and, while those concerns have been lessened by news of a support package for clubs, they would like more detail of the figures and how the money – thought to be around £3million per month for the three divisions – will be split between the clubs. That is still to be confirmed and there are understandable fears at the club the money they'll receive won’t cover the lost revenue from matchday tickets and takings at the bar, club shop and food outlets.
Funding is forthcoming from Government after it announced last week it was scrapping plans for a partial return of fans to elite clubs in the National League, EFL and Premier League. National League clubs received an email this week from the league’s chief executive Michael Tattersall explaining that the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) was working to create a support package that should give them the reassurances they need to begin the season. However, until the meat is put on the bones, clubs are still sceptical.
“We still don’t actually know what is happening,” Underwood said yesterday lunchtime (Thursday). “We saw the positive news coming out on Tuesday night and all clubs got a holding email from the league saying ‘don’t worry, something is coming from Government, we’re working on the details and it should be in place by the weekend’.
“But that was on Tuesday night and we’re now into Thursday lunchtime and we still don’t have any more detail than that.
“The sports minister said something was coming and it’s being worked on. But we don’t know what that’s going to look like and what level of support it will provide us. We don’t know whether it’s going to be enough and the danger is we reach a point where it’s too late. The last thing we want to do is pull out of any games, but what if we’re committed to playing games and the funding comes through and its half of what we need. Where does that leave us? The answer is in not a great place. So yeah, we’re not thinking it’s there until we see what it is.”
The club has submitted details of their usual match day revenue to the National League – including ticket sales, bar, café and shop takings – and it is hoped the Government’s support package will cover this for up to six months initially. They’re now waiting to hear if the funds they receive will cover this or, what is feared, it’s substantially less than what they need or have budgeted for.
“We’ve done that, and it was purely around match day revenue that was lost,” said Underwood. “What would you lose for each match that’s played at home. What do you normally take through the game and what are the other incomes you would lose? So, we’re projecting what our losses would be. The Government is looking to replace that lost income. It’s not related to club budget or what you are going to pay the players. It’s purely about lost revenue on a match day because fans are not coming through the door.
“So, whether they then apply an average and say we’re going to give everyone the same, or whether they’re going to give more to clubs who have bigger crowds I don’t know.
“We’ve heard it will be three or four million across the three leagues, and that they’re basing it on six months.
“It could change. They might decide that it’s safer to have fans standing outside watching a game rather than being indoors watching it in a pub, which is their current position.
“It seems crazy. Wealdstone are having to black out their windows so people can’t see out onto the pitch from their bar. It’s beyond belief.
“Dartford are also streaming and I’m sure the right guidelines are in place.
“There will be table service and social distancing, but it’s crazy that on the other side of the wall the game will be going on.”
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