Chester FC wishes to update City Fans United members and supporters in relation to the National League North play-offs.
On Friday 19th June, our Club and the other 11 to have qualified for the National League North and South play-offs took part in a conference call with the National League and The FA.
We are sure supporters will understand this is a complex situation for both the clubs and the league given the need for Covid-19 testing, footballing considerations as player registrations expired in May and the logistical arrangements of staging matches safely.
The requirements for competing in the play-offs were set out to clubs for the first time on Friday and as a board we have spent a considerable amount of time over the weekend reviewing this information and working through the challenges and potential solutions.
While the Club took the decision to furlough the playing squad and coaching staff in preparation for this eventuality, there are still a number of practical and financial considerations to be taken into account, including but not limited to:
- The Club is required to develop a thorough Covid risk assessment and stadium management plan in the unlikely event we are required to host a game in the play-offs. This plan includes the appointment of a Covid Officer and Medical Officer and must be approved by both the Safety Advisory Group and the National League.
- The Club must develop a viable Covid testing process for all players and coaching staff in order to participate in the play-offs. These tests must meet clinical testing standards and the provider must be certified and approved by the National League Medical Officer. As testing is required weekly for a minimum of a three week period, this is a significant financial cost for clubs.
- We continue to work with the management team around the development of Covid compliant training sessions in line with FA and Government guidance. This includes the use of small groups, non-contact training at stage one, regular sterilisation of equipment and sessions of limited duration held at a suitable venue.
- The Club has held provisional conversations with the playing squad and coaching staff regarding the contractual wage and bonus structures which would ordinarily be in place for the play-offs. This will enable the Club to reach a clear understanding of the costs and potential liabilities of taking part. Although the players have been undertaking personal training regimes at home, participation in the play-offs will require them to return from furlough leave for training and matches which has potential cost implications for the Club.
- We continue to engage with the National League regarding several outstanding queries around player registration including the use of loan players, in particular those players whose contracts have expired and those whose loan spells have come to an end, to ensure these players will be available should clubs participate.
The Board is continuing to work tirelessly on this matter with relevant stakeholders and wishes to reiterate to supporters our desire to uphold the integrity of the competition and to ensure the players, management and fans, have the opportunity to finish the 2019/20 season on the pitch. However, we cannot risk the financial security of the Club and this will be paramount to our decision.
We understand this is an emotive issue and we are committed to being open and transparent with members and supporters and will provide further updates as soon as we are able to.
Thank you for your continued support, patience and understanding.