During last night’s announcement by the Government, we heard the disappointing news surrounding the delay of supporters returning to stadiums.
We very much respect the scientific and medical advice relayed and understand that sport has to play its part in helping manage the spread of the virus. Our firm commitment to safe stadiums has been evidenced in our tireless work designing stringent stadium protocols. These would have been implemented to keep supporters safe via heavily regulated crowd management strategies. Naturally, we are frustrated that we will not be able to continue this work.
There is no doubt that this decision is going to present further economic challenges for many industries, not least sport and entertainment, and we are well aware of the challenges our fans, our partners and our associates are facing right now. In order to enable clubs to plan effectively, we do have an expectation that we will be provided with a clear and credible roadmap regarding fans returning to stadiums. Specifically, we must know what we are aiming for to ensure that we are on the right path to achieve this as the situation unfolds.
The English Football League pyramid is steeped in history and as the current custodians of Lincoln City FC, we must face up to the immediate financial challenges presented. I believe that with the action taken and regulation changes that were made during the closed season, we have made a start on the right path. We know the rules are not perfect. We know we are only addressing a part of the problem, but we must stress we see this as only the start of the journey.
To Lincoln City fans, I would like to assure you we are working tirelessly to safeguard your Club. The Directors and investors have committed their support to do all they can within their powers. However, there isn’t an endless supply of funds and there are some major challenges on the road ahead. In line with the collective EFL thinking, our strategy to this point has been to rely heavily on cash advances and spreading immediate liabilities over an extended period into the future. The fact that fans may now conceivably be kept away from attending matches in stadiums until March 2021 presents a huge problem and is one that will be faced collectively. We trust the EFL and those engaged directly with Government, and other stakeholders on our behalf, and wait with hope and optimism for assistance.
More locally, we do need to address the provision we have in place for the 4,500 season ticket holders who have remained phenomenally supportive throughout this difficult period. As you know, the credit and iFollow code system has some flaws, but we had hoped it would suffice to cover a short term need until stadiums reopened in October. We now recognise that we need to review this system as it is no longer fit for purpose given it unfairly penalises fans with multiple season ticket holders in a single household. We are committed to doing this over the next few days and will ensure we communicate further as soon as practically possible.
Finally, it would be remiss not to recognise the frustrations that some of you are experiencing when using iFollow. It is great to hear and see that most of our fans are enjoying trouble free streaming experiences. However, for the minority who are not, please be assured we remain in constant dialogue with our streaming partners, working collaboratively to overcome technical issues.
I am sorry I cannot give you a more positive message at this point but thank you once again for your incredible support. We really look forward to seeing you back at the LNER Stadium once you are permitted to return.