To All of Our Salopian Family
On behalf of the Chairman, Board of Directors and everyone at Shrewsbury Town FC we hope this letter finds you and your families all well.
We would like to start by thanking you all for your continued support, patience and understanding as several weeks have passed since our last open letter to supporters with very few questions having been answered. However yesterday’s developments provides us with some closure on season 2019/20 and our efforts can now be concentrated on planning for the future so we felt at this stage another open letter would give us a further opportunity to continue our transparency with you all.
Below are several key points that we hope will be a useful update for everyone on the latest EFL information and also an update on other relevant subjects.
As you will be aware there were two EFL Meetings yesterday, the first one in the morning was for all 71 EFL Clubs to approve the framework which allowed each division to essentially decide on its own fate and the second meeting in the afternoon was for Sky Bet League One Clubs only to vote on the curtailment of the League.
Both resolutions were passed with large majorities. It has been a very difficult time for football like all industries but at last, we have some closure on the 2019/20 season which as we have said throughout we weren’t comfortable resuming for the health of staff and also for financial reasons. During the two weeks prior to these votes, there has been plenty of lobbying by Clubs who disagreed with the resolutions as well as some very vocal clubs even suggesting that the costs of resuming the reason weren’t to the value that has been mentioned. We have no idea how they felt that this was less, as pointed out in our last open letter the costs to complete the season for STFC were very conservative at £500,000. Many Clubs just wanted some closure and to move on and start to make plans for next season 2020/21 and the constant lobbying was becoming frustrating for all Clubs that we have spoken with.
Season tickets 2019-20
Now that we do have closure on Season 2019-20 it has been remarkable to receive so many emails and communications prior to this from Season Ticket holders intimating that they do not wish to receive a refund for the remaining home matches. We have all been blown away by the support from our loyal fanbase at a time when we have tried to morally do the right thing and continue to pay all players and staff their full salaries. The cost of refunds would be around £150,000 so we are indebted to those who so far have already pledged for the Football Club to retain these monies during this difficult period. As a special thank you the club have decided to create a ‘Wall of Fame’ for any fan who wishes to keep their money in the club. Each fan will have their name engraved on blue and amber panels to be erected on the wall outside the stadium in the South East corner. We want to show our appreciation and recognise the loyalty of all those season ticket holders in a fitting way.
However, we do realise that there may be some through the loss of employment etc caused by furlough who may require the portion refunded in difficult times and we feel it is only again ‘the right thing to do’ to accommodate anyone who would prefer a refund. We want to be clear that we totally understand those situations. In order to request a refund please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, contact number and supporter number to claim the refund. We strongly urge that if you do require a refund that you contact the club within the next two weeks so that we can gain a better understanding of where we are financially and so that we can start to prepare the ‘Wall of Fame.’
Hopefully, now that Season 2019/20 is officially over, all efforts can be concentrated on the commencement and plan for next season. There have been many suggestions that there is the potential for the season to start in mid to late September although there has been no official word to that effect. Hopefully, with the reduction in numbers affected by COVID-19 and the gradual easing of lockdown, there will be some light at the end of the tunnel. It is vitally important financially that we get crowds back into stadiums and any behind closed doors matches are kept to a minimum. However, we need to ensure for health reasons alone that allowing crowds back into the stadium is safe for everyone. Some media reports have suggested that the FA Cup Final in August may have a reduced capacity at Wembley so we are ever hopeful this is true and we can at least satisfy season ticket holders with any reduced capacities. However, as intimated in our previous open letter we are looking at ways as a worst-case scenario that we can make up any behind closed doors matches to those 1,500 season ticket holders to date. As an example an agreement has been reached by the EFL and Sky whereby there will be the potential for season ticket holders to get access to a free iFollow pass to watch any games they lose through their season ticket which are required to be behind closed doors. We are also looking at other benefits that we can offer our loyal supporters to ensure they get value for the money they have invested in Shrewsbury Town FC by purchasing a season ticket in advance.
The NHS and key workers have been doing an incredible job for everyone in the country over the past three months and therefore as we had some home 2019/20 replica tops still in stock we are making 100 limited edition tops with ‘Thank you NHS & Key workers’ instead of where our sponsors ‘Tuffins’ have been. We are very grateful to Paul Delves and everyone at Main Sponsors, Tuffins for supporting us with this venture. These tops are currently in the process of being customised but as soon as they are available, they will be sold through the Club Shop website only at https://shrewsshop.co.uk. They will be on sale for £15 each and for each one sold we will donate £5 to our local NHS and Care homes.
We are also awaiting delivery of our STFC branded facemasks of which we have two designs, one with the STFC badge and the other with Jason Cummings well known ‘Joker’ celebration. As soon as we have these in stock they will also be available online only from https://shrewsshop.co.uk at a cost of £6.50 plus postage. To support our charity partner Shrewsbury Town in the Community who have been of fantastic support to our local community we will also be donating £1 from each sale to the Charity. We also hope to have the facemasks on sale if people prefer to buy in person from Tuffins supermarkets in due course, who have offered to assist with the sales.
Just a reminder that The Club Shop is currently still closed but hopefully, we are hoping to reopen the Club Shop website to have these and some limited items available online ONLY. As soon as this is done we will of course make an announcement through our media channels.
With the season now ended we would like to thank all of our loan players who have now returned to their parent Clubs; Max O’Leary, Callum Lang, Conor McAleny, Sam Hart and Kayne Ramsay. All of their loans expired on 31st May however had the vote not gone the way we wanted then we had negotiated to extend these loans to allow them to continue to play out the season which is now not required. We would like to thank each one of them for all their efforts over their time at Shrewsbury Town and wish them the best of luck in the future.
SP Fans Player of Year Awards
The Supporters Parliament have been in touch with ourselves, in an effort to arrange a ‘virtual’ End of Season Awards night for the supporters. More details will be announced in due course.
You may be aware of our recent statement in connection with a letter that was sent out by Damien Collins MP and signed by a number of individuals including local MP for Shrewsbury & Atcham, Daniel Kawczynski ‘on behalf of Shrewsbury Town FC'. It was very unfortunate that included in the letter was a statement that ‘we want to see the season completed above League Two’ which completely contradicted our previous 'Open Letter to our supporters’ from only the week before. The letter was publicised and we issued our clear statement that we had received no communication or consultation prior to the letter being signed and publicised. However later that afternoon we had communication from local MP Daniel Kawczynski to discuss the content of our statement etc. It was extremely disappointing that he didn’t seem to have any knowledge of our position despite it being widely circulated in our county, never mind our local community orientated Football Club as well as the incredible work being carried out in our community by our charity partner ‘Shrewsbury Town in the Community’. Hopefully, lessons will have been learnt and he now has a contact number for any advice required in the future in relation to our Football Club or football in general.
Since the last open letter we have continued to be careful with finances to retain as much monies as possible and with no certainty, for the future at present, we are all working very hard to ensure any cost savings or new income streams are explored. There is no doubt that our cash flow has been severely hit and even ancillary income streams such as our Conference and Events income will likely be affected potentially for even longer than the matchday income which is already of deep concern to us all. The extension to the furlough scheme recently announced by the government will assist in some way to reducing wage costs initially over the next couple of months and we hope to use the scheme for as long as practically possible in order to continue to do the ‘right thing’ and pay players and staff their full salaries.
FA Cup v Liverpool
You will recall our incredible come back in the FA Cup Fourth Round tie live on BBC with Liverpool to draw 2-2 back in January. Immediately following the match, the Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp ruined what should have been a wonderful moment for our Club by making public statements that he and all of his first-team would not attend the replay at Anfield, effectively ruining what should have been not just financially but for the players and fans a wonderful achievement and a very special occasion. We struggled to believe that his statements had no effect on the replay being televised and we are convinced that LFC broke the FA Cup rules by not ‘fielding their strongest team’ in the return fixture which had a knock-on effect of STFC not getting anywhere near the financial rewards that were to be expected from an FA Cup Fourth Round replay including a potential live TV fee against the World & European Champions and Premier League Champions (elect). In February we put a complaint in to the FA about the alleged rule breach but unfortunately and quite unexpectedly we were informed that this was dismissed last week (four months on). This without doubt resulted in a much lesser occasion for our players and fans as well as the financial reward that would have been expected from LFC playing their strongest team and abiding by the FA Cup rules.
Our Academy had some fantastic feedback from parents of boys within our Academy with all the work they have put in to ensure the boys' education and skills continued despite the lockdown and the skeleton staff operating. The staff at the Academy have worked tirelessly to ensure that STFC Academy has continued to engage with the players of all ages as well as CPD sessions for our Coaching staff with some high-level guest speakers such as Tony Pulis and Per Mertesacker as well as our Manager Sam Ricketts and our first-team players. David Longwell, our Academy Manager and his staff have produced a wonderful video showcasing highlights of the support the Academy players and staff have received during lockdown. We would urge anyone who hasn’t seen the video to watch it, its available on all of our media channels.
Our charity partner Shrewsbury Town in the Community has now made over 520 calls to vulnerable and older season ticket holders and this has been followed up with the delivery of hundreds of isolation packs all over not just Shropshire but also Cheshire and beyond by STiTC staff, Sam Ricketts, first-team staff and players. 1,295 miles have been clocked up with the delivery of the isolation packs! The #ShrewsFamily project has been absolutely fantastic and we all very proud of the work they have done in our local community. It's been brilliant to see us working in partnership with the charity to give our supporters something back for their support of the Club through the years.
We believe that we have been as transparent as we can in such an uncertain time but at least we can now look towards the future and start to prepare for next season whenever that might be. In the meantime, we will do our best to keep you updated with any news regarding the start of next season and any developments at the Montgomery Waters Meadow.
Please continue to stay safe and thank you once again for your fantastic and loyal support.
Chief Executive & Company Secretary