An update from Chief Executive David Bottomley
To Dale supporters wherever you may be in the world, I would again like to start this week’s update with a continued thank you to all who are working in any service that is currently helping us all get through this terrible pandemic.
I know many Dale fans are working incredible hours in the service of the NHS but I am also aware of many who are working in services that also matter greatly, whether it is delivering food or working in supermarkets or in engineering etc, and our special thanks go out to all of you. Thanks, also, to a wonderful group of people - the staff at RAFC. It’s not easy spending seven weeks in lockdown and being furloughed. I appreciate the spirit shown by all, and trust that life at the Crown Oil Arena can soon restart.
On that note of a restart, you will all have seen the news that EFL League Two have voted to end the season on a points per game basis, whilst League One remain undecided. From the very start of the lockdown and the suspension of football on 13th March, we have, at Dale, enjoyed being part of a great collective in EFL League One, helped very much by our two EFL Main Board representatives in Jez Moxey of Burton Albion and Steve Curwood of Fleetwood Town. We have more than any division enjoyed access to Rick Parry the EFL Chair and have also enjoyed weekly meetings. We have found all engagement worthwhile, informative and constructive, and some friendships we have with other member clubs have become all the stronger for electronic rather than face to face real life meetings. Maybe this is the future!
We have been supportive as a Club at the thought of a unified EFL League One in all we do, and have publicly been supportive of that, and whilst we do remain very much behind the collective, we have, as a Club, fully earned the right to compete in the same league as many more illustrious and historically successful Clubs who for various reasons are now plying their trade in the third tier of the greatest league competition in the world. Therefore, we have also earned the right to be part of group debates and planning at the same level. As a Club, we will ensure on behalf of all our loyal and wonderful supporters that we will do what we believe to be is the right thing during this current crisis. We will act as a fully responsible member of that collective group, and act with what we see as the best interests of our national sport and not decisions that potentially are made stemming from financial greed.
At this moment our opinion is to take the same decision as EFL League Two and end the current season now, as with every day that slips by the likelihood of allowing players a three week mini pre-season (EFL view) and then resumption and finish of season by 31st July (for player contract reasons) diminishes. We also believe that the potential excessive costs of testing staff and players twice per week, the ability to travel to away games whilst observing social distancing and the very clear moral issue of why can the football industry be tested at a time when clearly those tests are not available to all key workers, make it even more difficult to resume. So we, as a Club, would prefer now for sensible planning to allow us to work towards a 2020/21 season start and everything that goes in line with that.
I hope to update you more during the early part of next week, but will close again for now by asking all Dale supporters wherever you and your families are, to stay safe, heed all good advice and in doing so help relieve pressure on the NHS.
UP THE DALE. Enjoy your weekend.