Colchester United Chairman Robbie Cowling has made the following statement regarding the club and the COVID-19 virus.
On Friday, (March 20th), I met with my fellow directors so that we could make plans following the EFL's directive for training to commence at the beginning of April with a view to the season resuming at the start of May.
Given those directives, we decided to plan for training to commence on Monday 6th April when we will hopefully be preparing to be 100% ready to resume with our fight to gain promotion and that preparation would include a couple of friendlies against local opposition if permitted.
Having made the above plans, I feel I have to follow up with what are my opinions on how things may play out.
There is too much uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus, so making concrete decisions for the future is almost impossible at the moment.
Colchester United will fall in line with whatever advice it receives from the government and with the directives it receives from football’s governing bodies.
The social distancing we are being asked to perform is likely to go on for some time so even if the season resumes at the end of April, I do not see how it will be possible to play in front of a crowd.
The UK is not currently on lockdown in the same way much of Europe is but the speed that the virus is spreading is still accelerating and restrictions are tightening so it is unlikely that things will be 100% back to normal when the season does resume.
If that is the case, then thankfully the EFL does have a great streaming facility and so long as it is safe for the players to play the matches then the streaming facility could be used to show the games to fans in the safety of their homes.
We would also look to stream the friendlies if possible. I have already put it to the EFL that if the games across all of the leagues are going to be streamed, for League One and Two to have its own exclusive days of the week to play its fixtures.
That way, we can get as many fans as possible watching and that could help us all to survive financially.
I have suggested we are given evening fixtures so more key workers are able to follow their teams too and doing this would also reduce the need for away teams to stay over in a hotel the night before a fixture, (if any are actually opening at that time).
I believe it is imperative that this season is played out regardless of when that might be and if that has to be behind closed doors to keep players, staff and the general public safe then so be it.
If games are streamed, then I would imagine that season ticket holders will get free access and once games are ready to be played in front of limited crowds then I would also want to give priority to our season ticket holders.
The club will keep everyone updated with these kind of decisions and opinions with a weekly statement from the club and I’d like to finish this first one by adding my gratitude to everyone in our football family.
My staff, the EFL, other clubs and football fans have all responded magnificently to the coronavirus crisis and there is every reason to be optimistic that football will not just survive it but come out of the other side of it even stronger.
I would also like to wish everyone good health in the coming months.