A message from Graham Howse – Co. Chairman, to the fans, sponsors, David Morris MP and the Government.
At Morecambe we have been battling with the issues created by the virus to ensure non-playing staff, playing staff and eventually supporters can return to a safe environment.
The health of our amazing supporters when attending matches at the Mazuma Stadium is an absolute priority, not just for us but for the Government. We, as with other clubs are guided by the EFL and Government on what is permitted.
However, it should be recognised that Morecambe as with other football clubs are facing an impending financial crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have been heartened by the financial help provided by our loyal supporters and sponsors but that’s simply not enough.
EFL clubs lost £50m of gate income in the 19/20 season by playing matches behind closed doors in the Championship and curtailing the season for us in League 2 and in League 1.
The league will lose a further £200m if crowds do not return during the 2020/21 campaign.
At Morecambe, we are suffering through lost gate receipts, matchday activity from boxes, the concourses and from our famous pies, whilst still paying wages.
In order to resume playing in a safe environment, we have incurred additional costs in testing and staff safety.
Over many months, football and the Government have worked collaboratively to develop a stringent set of guidelines for the application of social distancing at grounds, we have appointed a COVID officer and the protocols written at the club make War & Peace look like The Hungry Caterpillar!
The guidelines will hopefully allow us to operate the stadium at 25-35% capacity, initially, to maintain 1 metre plus social distancing. This detailed guidance has now been implemented at football stadiums across the country by experienced crowd safety professionals, in order that we can be ready for the return of crowds at the beginning of October.
During September we have all seen a number of successful pilots held across sport that have tested the guidance and shown successful delivery.
Therefore, football and we at Morecambe now wishes to see the Government give the green light to the return of crowds from the beginning of October as originally planned. This will be the case across a number of countries in Europe.
Failure to do so, or at least give us a credible roadmap for the return of fans in the near future, could have catastrophic consequences for many football clubs across the country, in the northwest and here in Morecambe.
What will be the effect on the local community and the businesses who benefit from having a League 2 Club if we don’t survive!