Colchester United Chairman Robbie Cowling has issued the following statement, including details of how you pick the Essex Derby shirt for April.
I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and your plans weren’t too devastated by the restrictions that came in to place at the last moment.
Today is another day when we would normally be getting together with our family and friends and that will not be possible either. Let's hope that 2021 has better things in store for us, even if it is starting off on such a downer.
I would have much preferred to be sending out a message full of optimism but I must continue with messages of caution. It's a miracle that all seventy two EFL clubs are still standing but many are doing so by deferring financial payments into the future whereas I would rather take as much of the pain now whilst I know what we can endure. Who knows what the future holds for this season.
We are of course optimistic that the vaccine represents a way out in the near future, but right now cases are rising and so many games, in what is already a crowded schedule, are being postponed. There really are no guarantees that this season will get completed. However, I can assure you all that Colchester United is in safe if somewhat cautious hands.
On the subject of the vaccine, it's a sign of the times when the first thing you look forward to in a New Year is a jab but I can't wait to get mine and to get my life back.
For a short while, things did start to look better and in December we had two games where we were able to welcome fans back into the JobServe Community Stadium to watch our games against Grimsby and then Morecambe. It was great to see those of you that had bought Seasonal Permits, (and then the three match permit), at those games and I'm very disappointed that the new variant of COVID-19 has forced the club to play our games behind closed doors again.
I can't express enough how grateful Colchester United is for every bit of support it currently receives. It's not just the money but the fact that so many of you care about your local football club in its time of need. It certainly inspires me to do everything I can do.
By way of a financial update, the club will soon receive the final part of the rescue package that Premier League kindly donated to the EFL to stop it clubs from going broke. It has been estimated that gate receipts for Leagues One and Two are down by just under £100m due to stadium closures.
Therefore the £30m donated equates to just over £0.30p for every £1 lost. This money is gratefully received but it only fills 30% of the gate receipt hole and 0% of the money the club has lost from the other 340 days of the year that the stadium is normally open for.
I mention all of these financial issues in part because it seems as though many people think clubs have been fully compensated for their losses when the truth is we have not been. I also want to prepare everyone’s expectations for the January transfer window that is opening soon. The club is definitely going to survive the pandemic and the money received from the Premier League has lifted the club off its backside, but only onto its knees.
Until we are out of this crisis and can turn back on all of the revenue streams we depend on in normal times, we still have to be very strict with our spending. If January presents opportunities to put more money in the bank, then we will have to carefully consider those opportunities because every day that the stadium is out of action is extremely costly and it looks like those costs will need to be incurred for the foreseeable future.
As mentioned, the club really appreciate the loyalty of our supporters during this pandemic and we are trying to recognise this with our Loyal Supporter scheme which rewards those who buy access to games on iFollow with Loyal Supporter tokens.
One aspect of that scheme is the one-off shirt that the first team will wear for the home game against Southend in April, which will only be made available to fans who have earned enough Loyal Supporter tokens. As mentioned previously, the club has selected three options from the Macron ranges and it is only those fans who have tokens who will determine the actual one that the players wear on that day.
Well one thing you should be able to do at Midnight tonight if you have earned any tokens is to go online, log into your account at colutickets.com and vote for the shirt you want the team to wear. Voting will close on Midnight on January 31st and the voting method we have adopted is very dynamic, allowing voters to change their minds even at the very last moment.
The three shirts, (that I selected), were obviously from a limited range and specifically chosen so that they will stand out from shirts the club has worn previously. I sure most of you will like at least one of them.
Remember, no amount of money can buy those shirts from the club as replicas will only be exchangeable for Loyal Supporter tokens and the actual shirts worn by the eighteen squad members will be won by a lottery draw whereby each token provides the token holder with a lottery ticket.
And finally, my daughter Kym reads my statements and thought it was funny in my last statement that I explained how becoming sixty had turned me into a grumpy old man. Well here's more proof.
When I was much younger, New Years' Eve was exciting because it was the one day of the year when I was allowed to stay up to midnight. Now at 60 it's gone full circle. Once again it's the one day of the year that I'm up that late but only because it would be rude to go to bed any sooner.
At least this year, I have the added excitement of making sure the Loyal Supporter shirt voting is working as promised.
Happy New Year everyone.
Up the U's