A number of supporters have rightly expressed concern after recent announcements and I feel it’s important that during this difficult time, we communicate regularly and effectively to keep you fully up to date with all the latest developments.
As you now know, a number of staff have been served notice to ensure that we are able to meet our financial obligations and I can factually summarise the current position as follows.
Academy – Due to relegation two years ago, our extended Academy licence expires at the end of this season as per the regulations. All staff were aware of this pending end to the existing operation and some were already on fixed contracts until the end of April.
We have been working hard behind the scenes to create a new Academy model but the regulations do not allow us to retain our players and last week one of the prospective funding partners said they could not provide the anticipated support. In addition to this, on Friday we received notice from the EFL that all Academy matches were to be suspended and training was cancelled, effectively leaving us with no choice other than to give proper notice to staff rather than leave them in limbo.
Barnet Playing, Coaching & Support staff – The Players all have League contracts with many due to expire at the end of this season. The contracts have a provision for play-offs and we are awaiting the League’s decision as to whether the season will be completed. In the meantime, the players self-isolated for 7 days last week and we have advised them of the new government guidelines to increase the period to 14 days. They have also been provided with individual training programmes to keep them ticking over.
Both Darren and Junior are under contract but have long notice periods and we have activated these clauses. There is no doubt they have improved the team’s results of late and we will discuss what the next steps are likely to be and hopefully agree a way forward once we know the outcome of this season.
My own financial support will continue; however, our parachute funding has also now come to an end and we are unable to carry on with our existing setup into next season without this additional financing in place. This means changes to staff numbers and the need to prepare for life with significantly reduced crowds and funding. This is now sadly our reality.
If the League programme resumes then we will complete our fixtures and if promoted, staff will retain their positions. We are holding on to this very slim chance with hope but, at best, I cannot see this happening before June if at all.
Stadium & Site Staff – Our facility operates seven days a week generating funds for the Club to support our ambitions. However, the site is pretty much deserted and the bookings and matches we normally host have been cancelled. The Leisure industry is in meltdown and we have had to act quickly and decisively to ensure we can survive this terrible situation the country is facing. This has meant some very difficult discussions with staff and we hope that we will all find a way through this with many responding positively and supportively. We are working with a skeleton staff rota and expect the government to tell us to close down any day now.
I have had to make the tough decisions needed to keep the Club and business alive but have been taken aback by some of the reaction. I’m not sure everyone has really come to terms with the disaster we are all facing, which goes well beyond football.
Colleagues of mine working in the medical industry and more specifically in hospitals, say they are clearing wards in preparation for the expected massive influx of infected patients. They are on full alert with the military on standby and I believe we are only days away from a full lock down. Many will die and the world will not be the same when this is all over. My heart goes out to all those who will become and already are infected.
We are ready to support our community through this crisis and for several months now we have been scanning patients for The Royal Free Hospital to help them reduce their waiting lists. We hope to continue this service through the crisis and provide any other assistance that’s needed to help free up hospital time and beds.
We have also spoken with Harrow Council about repurposing our kitchens to cook free food for their meals on wheels service. This very important assistance will be needed to feed the elderly in our community, who cannot go out to shop and cook for themselves during isolation.
I hope we can all put aside our football differences for a few weeks or months and come together in these very difficult times.
My very best wishes to you all.