Company secretary Ashley Carson provides a further update on matters affecting the club...
All staff including the players, with a couple of exceptions, still remain furloughed. Following the latest speech from the Prime Minister, there is nothing that gives me any confidence that this situation will change before the end June.
Money is still extremely tight, but we received back just over £8,000 from the Police last week for matches that did not take place, which was a welcome boost.
As reported, the season 2019/20 has now been cancelled but what happens with the promotions/relegations and play-offs has still not been agreed. Communication from the National League has, in my opinion, been pretty poor.
The results for the ordinary resolution on April 9 to end the playing season, which CFC voted to end, are:
National Division clubs - For: 16 clubs; Against: 5; No response: 3
North Division clubs - For: 20 clubs; Against: 1; No response: 1
South Division clubs - For: 18 clubs; Against: 2; No response: 2
The National League board received responses from a total of 65 out of 68 clubs.
The responses included a range of views, many detailed explanations from clubs and a mix of views in each division. A brief overview is that in the National and Southern divisions, most clubs that envisage they may qualify for play-offs would prefer to postpone such play-offs, whilst many other clubs generally prefer cancellation. However, in the North division, there is a clearer picture in favour of cancellation.
The board has not yet proceeded with any decision and are awaiting further guidance from the FA and the EFL. The board has said that they also need to take further legal opinion. So now you are all in the dark with me!
Still no movement at this time on season tickets going on sale for next season. There is still absolutely no expectation to commence the season in August.
I have been monitoring this and now need to look to re-instate Spire Lotto. We have had some extremely loyal collectors of contributions from door to door, but sadly the reality is that this needs to cease. Moving forward, we will only be taking Direct Debits and Standing Orders. We need to consider how many supporters are affected by this, with a view to starting again on July 1. I would like to thank all our valued collectors, including our own 'Mr Chesterfield FC', Jeff Hall, but we need to think about their safety as much as anything else and reduce the amount of cash being handled. Jeff is a very popular popular figure and we have already spoken to him about the situation, which he fully understands. He will continue to be involved with the club in other capacities.
It is looking likely that the Club Superstore will have to remain closed for now. I am looking to try to sell all the remaining PUMA stock we have for £5/£3/£1. Ideally, I would like to re-open the doors, but the alternative will be purchasing online. This morning we have nearly 100 orders sat on the system. Thank you so much for placing these, it is very much appreciated. I have now taken the decision to un-furlough Lisa Smith and Angie Barker to deal with these from this Friday. Until the lockdown is relaxed, I am sorry but they will currently not be permitted to answer the door and serve you.
I am delighted with the positive response to the 2020/21 PUMA kits. The good news I have is that the slow boat from Vietnam has now docked and the home shirt will be landing in Chesterfield next week, so we now need to start to prepare so that we can sell online as soon as they arrive. At least you will be able to wear them out in the street for more than 30 minutes a day when you take delivery.
With not too much good news floating around at the moment, we want to offer the shirts this year at a reduced price as a thank you. The adult shirt will retail at £34 and the kids shirt at £20. I am still awaiting a delivery note, but expecting shorts and socks to arrive at the same time. The away shirt was less fortunate and this is on another slower boat set to arrive the last week in June. The goalkeeper’s kit was even less fortunate and this is on a rowing boat and looks like it will arrive the second week of July - 6,000 miles is a lot of rowing!!
Stadium Naming Launch
Nick Johnson is discussing this with the new sponsor and I am hoping that we can announce this by the end of the week in spectacular fashion!
Now that everyone has got used to spending by card and their phones, using Apple Pay etc, we will be looking to switch the stadium to cashless when we re-open. With the contactless limit also increasing to £45, there are many other benefits apart from just hygiene and many other stadiums are moving this way.
The loan players will all have left the club and be off the payroll by the end of May. We will then only have ten players registered with us.
As previously reported, we will not be offering any more than one-year contracts this year. By the end of this next season, every player will be out of contract. I cannot remember ever being in this position before, but a great opportunity to re-build if the manager feels it is necessary.
We have officially offered one-year contracts to several players who have all agreed in principle, but the agreements have not been signed-off yet for obvious reasons. We will announce through our media when they have signed, but to kill the speculation, the players involved are Luke Rawson, Regan Hutchinson, Jamie Sharman, Haydn Hollis and Mr Thomas Denton - at least he won’t be playing cricket this summer, so we should be okay!
The manager is still in discussion with other players but furlough has delayed further developments until we have some further guidance from the National League.
The appointment of an assistant manager, fitness coach and goalkeeping coach are still in the pending file.
Conference and Banqueting
The leisure industry is taking a real battering during lockdown and I can’t see the club offering any entertainment or hosting any events until July/August, but my crystal ball is looking very misty indeed at the moment. Cancellations and postponements are still sadly the only thing that we are doing.
However, prior to the pandemic, Madeleine had been in discussions with a local distillery and we are pleased to announce we will be launching CFC Gin very soon. We have been delighted to help this local business who have suffered as many other businesses have in this pandemic. The range will include a Dry Gin (with grass essence), Pink Floss, Lemon and hopefully a colour changing gin when you add your Tonic. We are hoping to launch this on October 1 with a Gin Experience event, so fingers crossed we can have a good night.
Dave Allen and I would prefer the Community Trust to purchase the club, however I have not spoken to Mike Goodwin for over a week as the same record is still being played. I am still receiving interest from other parties, but absolutely nothing worth reporting.
Therefore, Dave Allen and I continue to plan for next season, whenever that will be.
I try to keep my newsletters light-hearted, but I feel it totally inappropriate to escape or dodge this topic.
I have had sight this week of the Liquidator’s Annual Progress Report on CFC Football Development School Limited. Until this was released, we were prevented from disclosing the figures.
It mentions under Section 2, 2.3, the sum settled between both parties resulting from the ridiculous sums that they were claiming that Chesterfield FC owed to the Development School. This was in my opinion falsely and grossly exaggerated. In fairness, they had about as much in the way of records to relay on as we did on our side.
The whole arrangement between the Development School and CFC was a total disaster, nightmare and embarrassment for the CFC board and in particular myself and Dave Allen. This was a major contributing factor to the departure of Chris Turner from his position within the club. Sadly, Chris had allowed others to dupe us all.
I knew that we certainly owed them a minimum of nearly £20,000 resulting in illegal wages being made to three of our players, the rest was fiercely fought against and thank you to Howard Freeman of Shorts and Keebles Solicitors, for fighting our corner extremely efficiently.
It finally came down to a commercial settlement. It was either this or facing a legal battle with no guarantees. I was also keen to settle this to eliminate any potential purchasers of the club uncovering this as part of any due-diligence with no closure.
Considering that their initial claim was in excess of £150,000, we agreed a full and final settlement of £45,000. The payment was to be made at £9,000 a month for five months, which has now been paid off in full.
I feel it appropriate to apologise for the fact that this total mess ran out of control over a period of time. The plug should have been pulled on them at a much earlier point in time.
There are absolutely no other skeletons to jump out and absolutely nothing to be found within due-diligence that would have a negative effect on purchasing the club, apart from the running costs!
Finally and most importantly, Dave Allen and I want continue to send out our very best wishes to you all.
Please keep healthy and follow the NHS and Government's advice. Stay safe, stay alert and we hope to see everyone return to the football club as soon as possible.