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Club Talk

Sun, 24th May 2020 4:07pm

Clyde vice-chairman Gordon Thomson spoke to the official website today, to give supporters an update on wider discussions taking place within Scottish football.

Gordon represents the club at SPFL and League 1 meetings and, following another busy week, he gave a background on the type of discussions taking place:-

"Both John Taylor and I are involved in the Joint Response Groups (JRG). These are joint SFA/SPFL groups with representatives from other clubs, SFA and SPFL officers and Scottish Government representatives. 

"John is focussed on operations and matchday logistics while I'm participating in the regulations group that looks at competition rules and player contract issues. In addition to this I continue to be involved in the regular SPFL meetings and, in particular, divisional meetings that have been more numerous than late for obvious reasons.

"It is a busy time. Some of that is admittedly self-inflicted as we volunteered for the JRG but we both felt it was important to be involved and ensure the particular challenges of part-time clubs were represented. So when the opportunity arose we felt it was worthwhile. I'm fortunate in that my day time job can be flexible so I can work in the evenings to compensate for the time spent on zoom meetings which are the new norm. 

"Meeting with other clubs has been really valuable and in many ways enhanced relationships that weren't there previously, as we are all facing similar problems. However, the saying 'same storm, different boats' is true as not all clubs have the same resources in addressing the impact of Covid-19. 

"Then of course there is the issue of player contracts which has huge implications for clubs as the challenges of respecting employment law and football regulations such as furlough, minimum contract length, transfer window are complex; and all within the context of ensuring we remain as competitive as possible."

Of course, the question of when and how football can restart is paramount. Gordon continued with an overview of the options currently being considered:-

"Everyone wants to get back playing football. That's what we all want to do, we all want to return to normal but for senior football there are a number of hurdles. At all times we have to recognise that football is just one aspect of a problem facing the country as a whole and we need to always seek guidance from the football authorities and of course the government. 

"All options are being considered to get back; from closed door matches, reduced attendances and then back to normal but it is not straightforward. Through the news we have been given a glimpse of the response of the English Premiership to the crisis and it highlights the issues faced even at training - and that's with clubs with huge resources. So the challenges multiply in complexity for clubs of our size."

The option of closed door matches, with live-streaming, has been discussed amongst supporters as a potential way for football to restart at an earlier date:-

"On paper it seems plausible and we as a club will do all we can to get back playing, but we have to accept that logistically there are many challenges. The SFA and SPFL have worked hard to identify all the issues facing the clubs at this time and through the response groups are trying to address these issues but it will not be a case of one answer will fit all clubs.

"For example, as I said there are real challenges in training first as individuals then as a group... and that's before we consider the availability and cost of testing. So there may yet be further unconfirmed costs for us to address. 

"Then, from the perspective of a part-time club, we have to respect that for many players this is not their main employment and we have to consider the views of players whose main employer might not be best pleased at them risking infection, which may affect their attendance at their main job. 

"None of this is easy, but we will work at the club and, where necessary, in partnership with others to identify solutions to get us back playing. This includes looking at ways in which supporters will still be able to follow match action via the streaming of matches, though again, at League 1 and 2 level that is not straightforward, but East Fife and Falkirk have proved it can be achieved."

In a similar way, Clyde's own position and outlook on other areas varies from other clubs based on differing circumstances, as Gordon explained:-

"As I said, clubs have different resources and circumstances. We are not a full-time club with 2000 plus season ticket holders, we are tenants at a stadium and we also have to respect the challenges that NLL face in managing all stakeholders at Broadwood. Notwithstanding, the location of Broadwood and its environment and facilities may make some aspects of getting back to action easier, so it is not a binary issue. Many challenges remain and the picture changes on a weekly and some-times daily basis and, of course, is entirely dependent on the pandemic itself."

The issue of league reconstruction has been a controversial topic and Gordon gave the latest position on that, from a Clyde perspective and from a wider angle:-

"We have not had any formal contact with the reconstruction co-chairs. I gather by press reports a further document is to be issued on Monday so we will wait and see and react when we have considered it. 

"Our position has not changed. We believe no club should have been worse off due to Covid-19. No club should have been relegated and, by extension in this regard, Clyde, Peterhead, Forfar, Stranraer and Cove Rangers should not be deemed as collateral damage for a quick fix. A solution has to be found that achieves the original aim and is for all clubs. 

"There is no doubt that a review that also encompasses the whole game, taking account of supporters' views, is necessary. Not least to consider those clubs outside the SPFL, which is required to ensure that there is a level playing field for all, with uniformity of regulations at all levels of the game."

To conclude, Gordon said:-

"It was said that the challenge for the club is stark that has not changed. It remains true. We are thankful to those who have stepped up to assist in time, money and resources at this time. The addition of the advisory group with people experienced in finance, commercial business and strategic management has been vital.

"As supporters we can, and do, disagree on occasions, but we are all united in our passion for The Clyde. The priority for us all, when we are united behind the club, is to ensure that we are still able to share our opinions this time next year and we are not looking back on the club as having been a casualty of Covid-19 or reconstruction.

"I can assure all supporters that those of us in formal positions do not take these responsibilities lightly and our priority is keeping the club safe and then to be ready to be as competitive as we can be when football resumes."