These have been tough times for all of us and it’s fair to say that none of us have known a situation like this.
I want to give you an update on the football club, but first I’d like to pay tribute to the many members of staff within the NHS, social care, those working in our shops and pharmacies and across other essential services for their hard work in these difficult times. I’d also like to thank all of those connected with the Club for the fantastic work they have been doing over the past few difficult weeks.
For many of you, football will understandably be the very last thing on your mind – but for others the return of the football season will be the light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
We have two main objectives over the coming weeks and months –
- To support and look after each other – staff, players and the wider Falkirk family – as much as we can
- To get the Club through this in as strong a position on and off the pitch as we can
So, I want to take this opportunity to tell you more about how the current situation is impacting the Club and what actions we are taking to protect our long-term future.
I should start by saying that currently all staff and players are well. I’ve been hugely impressed that so many have showed a real willingness to help the Club and the community in any way they can –delivering care packages to elderly and vulnerable Bairns in the community, engaging with supporters via our social media channels and, of course, Michael Doyle’s focus in keeping us all as fit as possible
This extra effort is hugely appreciated, and we’ll continue to support the local community as and where we safely can. But that support goes beyond care packages and social media posts – and as a club we have been working hard to ensure that as many of our suppliers’ bills have been paid as possible to support the many businesses that we work with in the local area.
Football clubs are, at their core, businesses and must be run as such. Like any other business – when outgoings overtake income – we must take decisive action.
To that end, the board of directors have taken the decision to utilise the support of the UK Government, and almost all of our staff and players have been placed on furlough from April 1st.
We have kept a small team which is essential to support the core operations of the club and to prepare us for when this all ends – as it will.
For those of you not familiar with furlough – this means that we have reached an agreement with our staff that they take a leave of absence for the coming period. The UK Government will cover 80% of those staff members wages during this period and the Club will meet the remaining 20%.
This means that no employee of Falkirk Football Club will be left out of pocket. As I said we want to support and help everyone as much as possible.
We will keep the situation under review. It is important that we look after our people as well as the club’s finances, and this is a way we can do both. We can do this because we have the resources to do so and I’d like to thank those at the Club that have managed our finances carefully, which enables us to take these steps.
Our playing staff are extremely professional, and although furloughed, I know Lee and David are holding them to the highest levels of physical fitness so that when football returns, they will be able to hit the ground running – literally. To be fair I know the players take this approach without needing Lee and David to push them.
I know that many supporters have questions on when we expect football to return, in what shape, and whether we’ll be allowed to continue the current season. At this stage, no firm decisions have been made but I am in almost daily communication with other clubs, and there are regular calls with the SFA and SPFL. As soon as I know more, I will let you know our views.
On a final note, the decision to furlough workers was not an easy one – but given the fact that the vast majority of our staff are at home, unable to take part in training or to play games of football – it was the most logical one. The freeing up of 80% of the wage bill is a massive shot in the arm and coupled with the firm foundations that were in place before the Covid-19 situation we expect to come out of the other end in a stable position. Other clubs may not be in such a fortunate position, but I wish then all well. We need strong clubs to have a competitive game in Scotland.
Falkirk fans know, more than most, that football clubs are not indestructible. And while we are in a stable position just now, each month that passes with no income makes things just a little more difficult. As I’ve said, we will have to keep a close eye on everything – our cash, the support we get from Government, and the football situation. As things change, we may have to react – this is only sensible. Going back to what I said earlier, we need to look after everyone and look after the long-term health of the Club.
There will come a time when we’ll be asking supporters to get behind the club again by buying season tickets, sponsorship and shirt sales for example. We may also look to raise more money and are looking at the possibilities here. But that time is not now.
We are conscious that we are all under financial pressure and our team is working hard behind the scenes to look at ways that we can make things as financially do-able for you as we can.
We’re all in the same boat and we’ll have more to say in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, stay safe and follow the advice of the authorities. Look out for one another and hopefully it won’t be too long before we will be able to return to a level of normality and to a full Falkirk Stadium. Thank you, and I’ll be back with more news as soon as I can.