On the 26th March 2020 the Football Association (FA) announced that all football from steps 3-6 in the non-league system would be brought to an abrupt halt, all results expunged and the leagues would be voided because of the Corona Virus. This affected every club in those leagues but in particular Hanwell Town who play in the BetVictor Isthmian South Central Division as they came so close to a well-deserved promotion being top basically all season with only ten games to go.
On the back end of last season, the Magpies got a huge grant from the Football Stadia Improvement Fund which was used to completely transform the ground and they were hoping this would be one of the key elements to get them promoted this season but the virus sadly killed this dream off. There are further plans to improve facilities and the ground which is mentioned further down.
I managed to catch up with Hanwell Commercial Director Nigel Hunt and find out how he’s been coping during these unprecedented times and what implications have developed from this situation. Here’s what he had to say:
•What is the biggest impact from the void and was it the right decision?
“The biggest impact is that we could have gone up this season and this would have been a big boost to the club in our centenary year. If it’s the right decision depends on where you are in the league table, but most people would have preferred a calculation to be made on who goes up or down.”
•How has this virus affected the clubs plans?
“We are a club that is always moving forward with regards to our facilities here at the Powerday Stadium however the virus has put everything on hold and due to the lack of income our plans will have to be delayed until next year.”
•Did the club put aside a budget and invest in players this season in a bid to get promoted, If so how do you respond under the circumstances?
“We have a budget which reflects our ambitions and this will continue next season.”
•How much of a financial impact is this situation to a club like Hanwell?
“This has had a major impact on the club as we have had to cancel a number of events during the summer. Bills still need to be paid and without a steady income this is going to be a difficult period for the club.”
•How are budgets looking?
“At the moment we are ok but then no one knows how long this will go on for.
•How is the club coping without revenue coming in?
“We are using our cash reserves within the club but it’s the same in any business cash flow is very important and we do need to get back to some kind of normality.”
•Can people continue to get paid or not?
“We are still paying our bills and most of our staff are volunteers.”
•How do external stakeholders like sponsors etc also get affected from this situation?
“We have been talking to sponsors over the past few weeks however this has now all stopped in light of the situation.”
•What is happening at the ground and is the groundsman still busy? What work is he doing? How is the stadium being maintained?
“It is important that the ground and pitch is ready for when we come back, so we will start work on preparing the playing surface for next season.”
“We did intend to increase our budget on groundworks in the summer, but for now we will continue with our normal pitch renovations.”
•Is there a danger the club could go under?
“At the moment the club is in a good position and ready for the challenge next season.”
•Is there a plan in place to get through this time and do you believe the FA will need to help out clubs very soon?
“We would like to see the FA help Non-League clubs as we have exactly the same problems as teams higher up the football pyramid it’s just different sets of numbers.”
•How are you keeping busy and what sort of jobs do you have to do?
“We are in regular contact with all members of the club on a weekly basis to ensure we are ready for the new season.”
•How has it personally affected you?
“I like to get things done at the club so sitting around is very difficult.”
•How are you keeping up morale?
“We are making sure everyone knows what’s going on at the club and we are now working on our end of season bash, which will hopefully re-motivate everyone ready for the new season.”
•Lastly, when do you think football will resume and what are your plans/thoughts for next season?
“I hope we can start the new season in August but I feel this could be pushed back until September, I feel as a club we will bounce back and be a strong contender for promotion. Watch this space!!”
I’d like to say a big thankyou to Nigel for taking part and I hope everyone at Hanwell gets through this time and stays safe so they can address the unfinished business and get promoted next season.