Daggers Chief doubts next season will start on time

Dagenham & Redbridge managing director Steve Thompson has said he doubts that the 2020/21 season will begin on time.

Speaking on the Club website he released this statement;

“Firstly, I would like to wish everyone the very best and hope that you are all keeping safe and well, and also extend that to all your friends and family members. Whilst I have not heard of any serious illness within our staff and supporter base, I am starting to hear reports of some supporters who have tragically lost loved ones to this dreadful virus and I extend my, and I’m sure the whole Daggers Family’s, condolences at this very difficult time.

I would also like to take this opportunity to place on record our thanks to all the NHS staff, carers, and other frontline staff, including all the emergency services and also refuse collectors, postmen, shopkeepers, bus and train drivers all still working to keep us safe and well. I know many of our supporters fall within these groups.

Among the frontline staff we must not forget Funeral Directors, not least our own West & Coe. You may have seen recent news reports on the pressures that undertakers are currently facing, and I have been in contact with Jeremy West to offer our support. I know it has been exceedingly difficult, and at times distressing, for him and his staff, but many of us know first-hand the professional and dignified way they always conduct themselves, and I am sure it is no different now.

I am certain that all our supporters, players and staff are, like me, out every Thursday evening applauding all of the above mentioned for the tremendous work that they are all doing. A BIG thank you to you all from every single one of us.

In my statement last month, I advised that all our staff had been furloughed, hence the lack of posts on our website and social media. I am only able to post this today with the help of our IT Consultant, and the fact that we have opened the club today to facilitate a planned essential Blood Donor Session. However, unless you are booked in for this session, please don’t just turn up. Due to strict social distancing and other requirements put in place by the National Blood Service, only those who have had a confirmed booking are able to attend. This is a vital service which Dagenham & Redbridge FC have been involved with for many years, and if you would like to know more you can visit the NBS website here www.blood.co.uk.

I have been in regular contact with all the members of the Board, and also with the manager, Daryl McMahon, all of whom are safe and well and send their best wishes. Peter (Freund) and Craig (Unger) in the States have been very busy with the operations that side, but are also being kept fully appraised of the situation here.

Most of you will have seen reported, at the end of last week, that the Vanarama National League has voted to end the playing season for all fixtures scheduled up to and including 25th April 2020. This means that our season is now over. This is something that your Board fully supported and had in fact proposed from the start of this pandemic. There are ongoing discussions around possible promotion and relegation, but those outcomes will not affect us in any way.

It is a very disappointing way to end the campaign, and I know many of us will be disappointed, but with everything else that is happening around the world, and in particular the enormous loss of life, football must pale into insignificance.

It is only natural that, whilst we are in lockdown, our thoughts will stray to the resumption of football at our level. I am sure that, like me, you are all looking forward to seeing the team take to the field again. But I must caution against any optimism for a quick return.

Last Wednesday the Chief Medical Officer, Chris Whitty, suggested that social distancing might be with us for some months, even to the end of this calendar year. I know that there has been speculation about the Premier League restarting behind closed doors, perhaps as early as June or July, but with extremely strict measures put in place including regular testing of players and staff.

Alas, at the present time it is hard to envisage how this could work in the lower leagues. Hopefully a way is found, but for the time being, as a club, we must start to prepare for a lengthy period of hibernation.

What exactly this will mean I do not know, and we will certainly have to await further instructions and guidance from the Government. But, in my opinion, I feel it is unlikely that the 2020/2021 season will start as planned on the 8th August, but I could be wrong.

A number of supporters have kindly contacted the Chairman, Paul Gwinn, and myself asking if we are able to put season tickets on sale to help the club at this challenging time, but apart from not having the staff to be able to process such applications, we do not feel it would be right to accept funds until we have a start date confirmed.

In the meantime, I will continue to liaise with Daryl and the rest of the Board to try and ensure that we are ready whenever we can commence.

Finally, I have been in dialogue with the League about the possibility of Dagenham & Redbridge FC supporting a community project partnered by the Vanarama National League and a national UK Charity, which will help support many vulnerable people in our community. It is an exciting concept and hopefully more on this will be announced in the coming week.

In the meantime, please follow the current government advice and stay safe and well.”

COYD

Steve Thompson

Managing Director

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