With the suspension of the 19/20 season and no income from either football or the Social Club, Stafford Rangers call to action has gained support from both fans and shareholders and garnered interest from the NPL. The club wasted no time in recognising that surviving in these perilous times was something they needed to take into their own hands and quickly and impressively set up a Business Continuity Group to support the Board and develop a strategy to protect the club. The team is made up of both Rangers employees, fans, and Volunteers.
“In the last 2 weeks we really have achieved something”, explained Mark Alcock a Rangers fan all his life and a key member of the highly successful Shed End project.
So far, the club has raised in excess of £17,000 via donations and share sales. Fans dug deep into their pockets to visit Virtual Games through the clubs Stand Together campaign. “The response has been just fantastic, and we are humbled and grateful for people’s generosity at a time of such uncertainty, hardship and concern. We really do have some of the best fans in the country, loyal and so supportive” ‘says Director and Vice Chair Carol Bailey.
The Club has set an initial target of £50,000 with £25,000 to come from Government grants but the club is determined to drive the appeal forward as far as possible. The likelihood of a very long stoppage period looks likely to be extensive. The initial target was set to cover a financial deficit the club had at the end of February as a result of some bad decisions off the pitch, made worse by the poor set of results throughout the season. On the pitch the club experienced an unprecedented number of injuries throughout the season to many players on contract, which further exacerbated the difficulties.
The impact of Covid-19 then determined that drastic action needed to be taken to raise funding to cover costs of running the club over initially a period of 3 months but the Stand Together campaign will we believe be needed to look at our funding needs over a longer period of time. Club Finance Manager Paul Griffiths confirmed that “Even with the club in lock down and no activity on or off the field we need £6,000 per month to cover fixed costs.”
The initial moneys raised through fundraising will support:-
Short/Medium Term Cash Flow, payment of invoices, direct debits, and wages paid in arrears for March and payments the club needs to make whilst it awaits government grants. There will also be future liabilities resulting from having to defer certain payments.
The club recognises that the position they find themselves in is also a wakeup call and accepts that whilst fundraising initiatives are imperative many things need to be looked at in the forthcoming months.
“We are working with the directors to look at the very structure of the club and how it operates” states David Montgomery, part of the working group supporting the directors. “There needs to be wholesale change in structure and attitude to bring the club into the 21st Century and decisions need to be made based upon the needs of the business and the ability of the business to finance those activities”.
The club will now concentrate on attracting new directors into the management team and develop a business plan that can be formulated to identify all the key requirements and form the basis of everything going forward. The club announced earlier today that they had released Alex Meechan from his contract as team manager and now seek to put things in motion to look and appoint at the right time a new manager and put a process in place to talk to players behind the scenes.
“It is likely that the playing budget will need to be cut for the next season as the club seeks to formulate budgets that are within the clubs finances and the uncertainties that will have to be dealt with in the future.” states John Hayne one of the clubs directors. Chairman John Bromley accepts that change must now come and wants to thank all the fans and shareholders for their fantastic support.
“We must now look at everything again and look at new things and will be looking in detail about how we change. New board members are needed, more people to share the responsibilities and a sea change of process changes”
The new Stripes supporters trust are eager to be part of infrastructure projects that improve facilities for fans and generate money for the club and as discussions get underway could also result in the appointment of a Fans Director to the board.
Part of the Stand Together campaign will enable NHS workers to be given a free Season Ticket when the new campaign finally starts, and the club plan an evening celebrating the hard work and commitment of front-line workers.
Times may be changing, and uncertainty may well be the driving factor surrounding many businesses. In the scheme of things Football is well down the list of priorities and the club applauds the work of the front line workers. Eventually our responsibility will be to go on and play our part in the community and the message from Stafford Rangers is very clear Stand Together.
The club confirms that they will continue to communicate with fans as effectively as possible.