Firstly, can I remind everyone without preaching to our Town, our Community or our supporters, that we must all follow government guidelines diligently in regard to social distancing, by staying in where possible and working from home where practical.
To everyone of you with pre-conditions (which is the category I fall into) or our elderly, we must all use our common sense to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, not just for a day or two but over the next month, two or even three – who knows?
I’m the Chairman of your local Football Club, but I’m also a son, a brother, a father and a grandfather, as such I’ve tried to show in these unprecedented times the correct leadership, compassion, care, common sense and community care to everyone who I can affect. This includes my family, my staff, my players, our scholars, our supporters and to our Town.
I will now give you a rundown in this update of the Club measures that I’ve taken, but again I emphasise that I believe local football, and when it might or might not return, is a complete irrelevance to me at a stage when this Coronavirus pandemic will soon be out of control.
My concerns are, and have only ever been, about the health and well-being of my staff, my family, friends and loved ones. Today as the crisis increases, it’s now about life or death and about maintaining as many of my staff’s jobs as possible, while ensuring their health is paramount.
As such from day one of this pandemic, when I realised what we were about to face, it was I felt my duty as Boreham Wood FC Chairman, to consider what I could do presently for our community and I know currently that might seem very little – but other than looking after my staff, my community help might be needed more at the recovery stage, and trust me I’ll be there in whatever capacity I can to help our elderly, our local charities and my Community where I can.
For now, I must concentrate on the well-being of our proud, if small, community Football Club that’s been here since 1948 and ensure that although it’s on life support, that it’s heart will be beating when we conquer this virus and I know we will beat it.
As such, I have set aside enough personal funds to look after 95% of all of my administration, function, maintenance, cleaning, catering, academy, coaching, medical and playing staff.
I’d also like to place on record my genuine thanks to our Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his Chancellor Rishi Sunak and this Government for their most welcome and very surprising statement of help on Friday evening.
Trust me for a small local employer, it was incredibly heartwarming to feel that I wasn’t alone and our Government was about to share the load and that selfless act, has helped me enormously. In fact, that announcement has allowed me to re-work my budgets over the weekend, re-look at my sums and means I can save the jobs of the last of my full-time employees. So, thank you Prime Minister.
On the operational side of things, what exactly have I and my staff of your local Community Football Club been up to?
Well firstly, I felt it was very important and still do, to be completely transparent not only with my Community and our supporters, but also with my Heads of Department, my key staff, as I wanted to ensure that I kept the communication lines open from top to bottom where possible and allay people’s fears.
Secondly, that I quickly set aside personal monies to ensure that as many of my staff as possible were reassured that their loyalty and service over many years, would be rewarded if at all possible as I’d decided not to put self or family before the collective good of the very people who have helped me build our football club, my academy and my other businesses.
Thirdly, it must still be about finding ways to ensure that every one of my staff are placed in as safe a working environment as possible. That means, I must allow all staff who have or are living with people with pre-conditions to work from home and in truth they must self-isolate as soon as possible as this virus gathers pace.
Fourthly, I have since Friday 13th March, after the Mikel Arteta positive COVID-19 test announcement, stood my players, dressing room and dressing room support staff down and that will continue until at least April 25th at the earliest. I do that, not only for their own safety, but for my other staff’s safety. It also allows the dressing room to organise themselves, to best serve their families and to best use their roles within their family structures.
So, by Friday 20th March, I’d already taken the decision at 6.00pm, to lock the Club’s gates to the general public and to work a rotational skeleton crew system, that mans the Club’s offices and keeps the phone lines and help desks open.
Over the past week or so, I’ve shut down the Stadium, I’ve shut down the bar and function suite. I’ve also shut down the astro facility and I’ve ensured that no staff who I’ve asked to come in from Monday, will be allowed to have any personal contact with each other, as that will avoid any chance of cross contamination and anyone passing on the virus to each other.
So today on Mothering Sunday, and having sadly lost my Mum over the past year, it will feel lonely and emotional without her, and without me preaching to you, please don’t put your Mum at risk today… If she’s of a certain age, no matter how wrong it might feel and how hard it will be for Mum and you, all to stay away. Our Mums are precious, and you must do the right thing.
Finally, it just leaves me to say, we know it’s going to get worse, we know it’s going to be a challenge for all of us, but whatever it takes, I know we’ll rise to the challenge as our Community, our friends, our loved ones and our family must always come first and football must always come second.
Let me sign off with this update by saying this. Your Football Club will be here and waiting for you when this nightmare is over.
Take care, stay safe and may God bless you all,