Saddlers Chairman Leigh Pomlett has chosen to address a number of questions that supporters have been posing over the last few weeks.
After speaking to the Supporter Liaison Officer, Graham Whittaker, Leigh has answered all questions which were put forward to him in a Q&A style fashion which can be seen in full below.
Q: Will the club support a completion of the 2019/20 season?
Yes, the Club would support completing the end of the season to protect the integrity of the competition and to fulfil our contractual obligations providing it is safe to do so. We would hope to do that in front of a live crowd but the reality is this may have to be behind closed doors.
In that event, games, both home and away, would be live streamed through iFollow. If that is the case, we intend to provide season ticket holders with access free of charge, whilst a match day pass could be obtained by non-season ticket holders.
Q: Are players who are out of contract going to have them extended or will they automatically terminate on June 30th?
We will await guidance from the relevant bodies, EFL/FA/FIFA, on this issue. As it stands, legally the contracts will terminate but as a Club, we may choose to exercise our options on certain players. This is something I am already in dialogue with Darrell about.
Q: It has been reported in the press that social gatherings will cease until at least Christmas, does this mean that football will be behind closed doors until this time?
We simply don’t know at this stage. As it stands, various models that would allow us to have a live crowd in the stadium are being investigated which could comply with social distancing but allow matches to go ahead.
Q: It has been reported that League One and League Two clubs are looking at a regionalised league in the future, what are your thoughts?
This hasn’t been discussed in any League Two meeting that we have had. Stefan, Dan and I meet formally with representatives of the EFL weekly - via conference call - for updates and to discuss matters in hand. We also meet with a League Two Ownership group in a less formal manner weekly too. At no point has a regionalisation been on the agenda.
Q: Now the Early Bird period has finished, how can supporters help the club? There is the 50/50 and the club shop but are there any other ways?
Just show patience please and if anyone has any ideas, we will be listening. There’s still plenty of avenues for supporters to communicate their ideas to us, whether that is through our social media channels or emailing us.
Q: You mentioned in your video update last week that everyone at the club had played their part in helping the club out, how have they done this?
The staff have been exemplary during the lockdown period. I had a video conference call with all of the permanent staff last week and every single one of them understands the situation we are in at the moment. Temporary wage cuts have been taken, wage deferrals have also been put in place and some staff are also working voluntarily and they are working very hard.
The Executive board meet twice daily via a conference call as we look to guide the club through this period. The Communications team also meet in this manner daily and I have been pleased with our output as a football club. I also speak to Darrell daily. We have changed the way we work to ensure we are as productive as we can be at this time and I am content that we are doing all we can to work through this period.
Q: What sacrifices have had to be made in order for the club to be able to sustain itself during the lockdown period?
We have furloughed the majority of our staff and implemented a wage reduction and deferral scheme with every single department contributing. In addition to those measures, we have changed our pitch renovation plans, we have cancelled the pre-season tour and we have also paused the Community Hub build.
Q: With no definite date for a return yet, how long will it be before you’re worried about the future of Walsall Football Club?
Much will depends on the actions we take as a Club and the possible relaxation of the lockdown rules. It also depends on the support we get from the EFL, the government, banks, supporters and the Premier League.
At the moment, we are in reasonable shape and much better than a lot of clubs but we need to be very vigilant over the coming weeks to protect our club. Like anyone though, these are worrying times for all of us.
Finally, I would just like to say thank you once again to everyone who purchased a season ticket during the Early Bird campaign. Your support quite frankly went beyond my expectations and I can’t thank you enough for that.