Open Letter to Supporters from Rick Parry (EFL Chair) – BWFCST Comment

On the 132nd anniversary of the foundation of the Football League, the Chair of the EFL has published an open letter to supporters of every EFL club.

Whilst acknowledging current Government guidelines in the attempts to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the open letter deals in more detail with the specific problems the game of football is facing in these anxious times. The one point made in Parry’s letter that will trouble supporters greatly is where he states “…the point at which you will be able to attend games again remains unclear.” Parry also states that “…whenever we do return, matches are likely to be played without crowds.”

Andy Pilley, the owner and chairman of Fleetwood Town FC, stated a couple of days ago that he didn’t envisage supporters attendance at live games to be available this side of Christmas.

So, if games are to be played behind closed doors, this opens up many matters that need full and frank assessments to be carried out in detail if, as Parry says, we are all to continue to adhere to Government guidelines.

Consider the following:

  • Will all players, backroom staff and officials need testing on a regular basis to allow them to compete in what is, after all, a contact game?
  • Any stadium will require some sort of skeleton staff in order to play a game behind closed doors. Medical staff, security, ball boys/girls, groundstaff, maintenance staff etc, etc.
  • After the game, all those involved will go back to their families. Or will they?
  • What about those football supporters who do not have access to view games online if that is the short term intention? There are still supporters out there who are in that position.

Parry also says “…we can all play our part in the national effort against coronavirus and so I’d also like to take this opportunity to urge you all to stay at home.” Surely this includes those who would be involved in staging a game behind closed doors?

It is fully accepted that the EFL are not advocating immediate resumption behind closed doors and that if and when games do resume, the above considerations will be fully addressed. It is certainly hoped so.

It goes without saying that the financial implications of the current coronavirus situation for the non-playing staff employed in running our national game are also no different to the rest of those employed throughout the UK.

There are no easy answers and we must wait and see how the lockdown and exit strategy unfold during the coming weeks and months.

But to put matters into perspective, we make no apology for posting the following communication received today from a BWFCST member:

“I miss football but this is more important at the moment.

I’ve got a mate who is stuck in New Zealand and has not seen his kids in 6 weeks.

I’ve got a mate who cannot go to his brother’s funeral as they can only allow 5 people in.

I know someone waiting for a transplant.

I’ve got a mrs and 3 kids that depend on my income and I’m now into my 4th week of no pay.

Football can wait”

Food for thought, Mr Parry……

BWFCST Board                                                                                                             17 April 2020

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