Well, where do I start? With so much going on it’s hard to know where to begin, but of course the overriding consideration in all our minds is about the health of everybody, not only those close to us and the football family but the nation as a whole.
Whilst this is impacting everyone, we want to ensure our football club plays its part to the fullest – which is only fitting given our role and standing in the community.
As a community-focused supporter-owned club it is times like this that our charity CITY Community Trust (CCT) really comes into its own.
We have a team of professional people delivering a huge range of activities across all ages and now is the time for us to support keyworkers and those in our community who need us most.
Our manager, the ‘real deal’ that he is, is keen to play his part, and this week he has been making calls to check in on members of CCT Sporting Memories groups.
Matt Taylor has been phoning members of Exeter City's Sporting Memories group this week to check on their well being
We’ve been in contact with a number of local schools offering free activity sessions to support their staff who are keeping schools open for vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers, as well as working with our many partners across Greater Exeter to offer our support wherever we can. But as we all know, the situation is changing on a daily basis, so we will adapt and do our best for our community.
When you think about all the rhythms of life, football is definitely one of those, although often more rollercoaster than a gentle rhythm, it has to be said. Football is an important fabric of our country’s life, the camaraderie, friendship and unity that it brings, not to mention the people reliant on the income from the industry. I don’t quite agree with Bill Shankly’s famous quote that ‘some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that’ – but maybe he did have a point.
Our media team has been flat out to provide as much of a football fix as they can, from Guess Who (ECFC style), to the Tagg or Taylor quote game, they’ve really pulled it out the bag this last week or two. Although the less said about the Connect 4 game against Plymouth on Monday the better…we did resist the temptation to call it Connect 4-Nil. I know I’m all over the funnies, but that line came in a conversation with Radio Devon’s Gordon Sparks, who we all know is a huge Plymouth fan and it just shows that unity and community is bigger and so much more important than bragging rights.
Marketing manager Scott Palfrey who, as part of the media team, has been keeping fans informed and entertained during the lack of football even if he did lose a game of Connect 4 to local rivals Plymouth
One of the casualties of the postponed games were the celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the Supporters’ Trust, which were due to have begun with the Salford game. A huge amount of work had gone into preparing everything for that game which pales into insignificance when compared against the monumental effort of the trust for those 20 years, but nonetheless it was a real shame. We’ll make sure we celebrate properly when we can.
In amongst all the doom, gloom and disaster there was a really bright light last week with the announcement of Carpetright as our new club sponsor. Our commercial team did a great job in securing this national company and whilst everyone was hugely grateful of the years of sponsorship from Flybe, to replace them with a national brand like Carpetright is incredible. I’m looking forward to building a relationship which I have no doubt will be of significant mutual benefit to both parties.
Julian Tagg pleased to welcome on board Carpetright as the club's new main sponsor
I’ve often been a critic and my ‘fight for youth’ continues, but credit where its due, the EFL have reacted very sure footedly to the changing situation over the last few weeks. One privilege I do have is, I am the reserve representative for League Two on the EFL board and with the ‘real rep’ floating around off Australia, it has been a busy time for me! I have to say that whilst I have been, as mentioned, critical of the EFL in the past, on this occasion and under so much pressure, the preparation and development of a strategy for a recent meeting was hugely impressive. It also gave me a real insight into how difficult this situation is for so many clubs. It wasn’t so long ago that we were in exactly that situation, unable to survive a week if matchday income dried up. Many people still remember what that was like and this is a very good example of how our Trust model stands us in good stead.
So, what comes next? My order for a crystal ball and a magic wand from Amazon has still not arrived – watch out for scams in the next few weeks - so your guess is as good as mine. There’s no doubt that the next weeks and months will be hard for us all, but I know we will see so many people supporting each other. Community is what has made our club what it is over these last 20 years and it will be an extension of this community spirit which sees us through this very challenging period. ‘Crisis, what crisis?’ – it’s exactly what were good at!