With so many activities naturally being stopped under current circumstances, there is likely to be no football action on the pitch for the foreseeable future. However off the pitch plans still have to be made for when or if the campaign resumes, along with other aspects of trying to keep the club running.
Tauntontown.com spoke to Club Chairman Kevin Sturmey to ask for his outlook on the present situation and provide some background to some longer term plans:
“It’s been quite surreal over the last week with no firm decision from the Southern League on whether this season will be cancelled. The health of our community and our country is what is most important at the moment, football will have to be put on the back burner as it’s irrelevant compared to this crisis. We are in uncharted territory and what we are seeing is unprecedented and not something I thought I would see in my lifetime.
It’s a time for everyone to be sensible, stay safe and not take life for granted. We are all vulnerable but the elderly and people with underlying health issues are the most vulnerable and we need to look out for them and help them. One of the main jobs for me this week was to contact every concessionary season ticket holder to make sure they had support around them and offer our support if not. A lot have an email address so that was the quickest way to offer support, but a good number only have phone numbers and I finally managed to speak the last contact at 6.45pm on Thursday night. Giving someone the necessary support when it is very frightening can keep them calm and supported.
I speak to and recognise so many people by sight on a match day but of course none of us know if they have close family near to them or a support network around them. This crisis has made me realise how important our community is and we all take so much for granted.
Technology is so important these days and this crisis has proved what a positive tool it is although unfortunately some people still like to use it negatively which I find very sad and selfish. Also, the panic buying is pathetic as there is plenty of food and plenty of consumables available. To see a video of an NHS Nurse not being able to buy food after a 12 hour shift looking after sick people is heartbreaking. The stress the NHS frontline staff are under is difficult in normal times but at the moment they are all heroes who need to be revered, we have volunteers and fans who work for the NHS and they are all doing incredible work to fight this horrible virus, the like of which has never been seen before and the first pandemic for over 100 years.
I already have some ideas how we as a community football club can show our thanks next season as we need to show the NHS we care, it’s a wonderful institution, the envy of the rest of the world and we too often take it for granted and forget what it provides every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It faces challenges all the time but one thing you know is this is Great Britain and we are fighters and we will continue to fight this crisis but we all have to do what the Government tells us otherwise next season may never start. It’s that serious, everyone must take responsibility and listen and read the guidance we are all being given. While everything is on hold, we still have to try to plan which is difficult, but we do have to think to next season. Rob and I speak every day to make sure there is a support network for the players and their families if it’s needed.
It seems odd that I had to put up the planning notice which I had almost forgotten about with everything going on. It’s not something that is urgent but is part of the process we are looking at to develop the Cygnet Health Care Stadium. Brian Pollard, our Vice Chairman on Stadium and Facilities, is passionate about development and wants to start moving forward so we are ahead of the game, not behind it. Rest assured there is nothing urgent that must be done and there is no threat of relegation as our facilities are one of the best in this division for an “old” ground.
If and when we get promoted to Step 2 National League South, the only thing we need in place are three turnstiles so we can segregate for bigger matches or matches which may be deemed by the Police to be a risk. We are lucky to have a Football Liaison Officer who is also Yeovil’s FLO who gives us guidance and advises us of any issues via the intelligence carried out before every home match. This quite simply is both clubs communicating in the week before the match to share any concerns.
The plans for Outline Planning are to extend cover to both ends all the way across the current terracing, three more turnstiles next to the fire exit gates at The Fire Station corner and within the covered stands approximately 120 more seats. We have plans to place those seats in new stands but at this stage the simpler way would be to make use of the new cover provided. We don’t need more seats for the next level but if we want to compete in play offs in Step 2 (a lovely thought) we need to have 500 covered seats within the stadium under current ground grading requirements. The reason why we need planning is that we can’t apply for any funding until planning permission is granted and both planning and funding are long processes. So something might not happen for years, but it could happen in months as it will depend on the factors out of our control at present. If and when we do go up to Step 2 it is all in our planning to get the three turnstiles built, knowing Brian as I do, they could be built in a few weeks!
It all sounds simple, but 70% funding is potentially available as we have the other 30% thanks to the generosity of someone very special to us but without the 70% funding it’s isn’t viable. I hope that makes our situation clearer and rest assured we are all ambitious here, but the current crisis will be the main priority for all of us at present, although we also have to still think to the future as life will still go on, however different it currently feels.
Please stay safe, please look out for your family, friends, neighbours, fellow Peacock fans and the whole community and don’t panic buy there is enough food and consumables for all of us. Most importantly support the fantastic work many frontline staff are doing especially in the NHS and if you get a chance, just say thank you. It costs nothing, and it can make all the difference when our heroes are under extreme pressure.”