19 Jun 2020 in General News
We hope you and your loved ones are safe and well. A big thank you must go out to all of our key workers in the area (especially those amongst our staff and supporters) who have worked tirelessly in our health service, care homes, educational facilities, retail and distribution. It is hard to believe it is already 13 weeks since we entered lockdown and 15 weeks since we last hosted a Northern League match at Woodhorn Lane.
As a board we thought it would be a good time to provide an extensive yet important update with regards to the overall Football Club.
The last week or so has been dominated by the story of David Bainbridge, our much loved friend and volunteer who was recognised by the club for his efforts and dedication. To say this was an emotional moment for us all is an understatement. We did not expect the coverage the club or David has received but we are delighted David has got the recognition and praise he deserves.
Undoubtedly to have our senior, reserve and youth seasons all halted and our function business closed overnight was a massive blow to everyone concerned but has not deterred us from our ultimate goal at Ashington Football Club – to leave no stone unturned to be the very best we can be.
The enforced break due to the unfortunate outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic has enabled us to take stock of everything and to coin a phrase ‘hit the reset button’. We have identified a number of areas where the club has not been as efficient as it could have been, and we are making the necessary amendments to correct that. We have received excellent support from our sponsors, supporters, players and friends in recent months, including sponsors renewing their advertising boards, new partners coming on board, season ticket purchases and kind donations by fans and players alike. We have also received financial support from the Football Foundation Pitch Improvement Fund and Sport England. This has enabled the club to have breathing space and, in some areas it gave us the opportunity to invest in our overall facilities and business. Pitch renovation works were carried out in May and groundsman Scott Robson has worked tirelessly to get it into excellent shape.
This football club has made huge strides in the last 20 months and that could not have been done without the support of those mentioned above as well as our landlord Advance Northumberland who have worked with the club to secure its immediate and long term future for the community of Ashington to use for many years to come. On a very positive note we are delighted to say we are now free of historical creditors in what was a very hard and fast payback period. It has been very much short term pain for long term gain.
The club can now begin to look at ways in which we move forward as both a business off the field and a football side on it. This has included the compilation of both a robust business plan, alongside a creative and ambitious football development plan from youth to senior level, both of which we can work towards to move the whole club forward. We are already one full year into having our development section directly involved with the overall club as well as our newly formed reserve side, and it has been encouraging to see the interaction between the youth, reserve and senior sides.
We will look to share the key headlines of both these plans in the coming weeks and months once we have a definitive start date for our business to begin operating again. We are awaiting guidance from the Football authorities as well as the government as to when we can start both our football activities at all levels as well as operation of our function and bar facilities. In the First and Reserve teams it is hoped that the majority of last season’s squad will be staying at the club and we are also hoping to add some new faces in the coming weeks.
We will not sit back and rest on our laurels, as Directors and a Board we have come too far to do that. This is evident given that we now find ourselves back at a healthy starting position. Our aim now is to begin to deliver our business and football plans. This in turn will help the club to generate funds, which in turn will help us to achieve a position, for which we can have the ability to invest in the infrastructure of the club, the playing side as well as helping us to improve our offering and contribution to the community.
We have one of the best facilities for non-league football in the North East at Woodhorn Lane thanks to the investment in the building several years ago, but we have to ensure that we utilise these facilities to again deliver our future plans. This facility is set-up for and deserves to host football higher up the football pyramid and that is our ambition.
The last two years have been a tough learning curve for everyone. However, the darkest days are now behind us. As a club we are aware of the hard work that has been undertaken to get us to this point, we are though fully aware of the hard work that also lies ahead to now drive us forward both on and off the pitch.
As well as continued commitment, determination and hard work from everyone, as a club we are realistic - it will take time to achieve our ambitions. Finally, we would encourage any ambitious sponsors to join us now to help us grow. There has never been a better time to become involved in Ashington Football Club.
Thank you for your continued support and we hope to see everyone back at Woodhorn Lane soon.