70 days on from Cheltenham Town Ladies’ last game against Exeter, the third UK lockdown has left the club wondering how the remainder of the season will be decided.
The impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent suspension of all grassroots football has had a widespread financial effect.
For Cheltenham Town Ladies, there have been both positive and negative effects to the club’s finances during these trying times according to manager Tom Davies:
“On the plus side, we haven’t been training on winter facilities so we haven’t had those outlays. It is difficult, as there are games we’ve played with no fans which costs us money at every single stage.
“The FA Cup games have been behind closed doors and we’ve had to find new facilities for those. I think where we are lucky is that we work really hard.”
Cheltenham Town men’s side were headed for a one million pound loss back in October 2020 but would have been boosted by the huge FA Cup tie against Manchester City.
Davies is well aware of the ramifications that behind-closed-doors games are having on other leagues:
“In terms of the impact it’s had on men’s football, look at the Championship, League One and Two without fans! That’s a huge amount of money not going in.
“In women’s football, the Women’s Super League and Championship are carrying on with no fans. For us, the impact isn’t as large but we just have to search for a new means of finding money.
“Fortunately, we’ve made three new appointments in terms of a general manager, operations manager, and commercial manager. Therefore we have three more people who can help us find revenue streams for the club.”
Cheltenham Town Ladies currently find themselves sixth in the table, having played five games and won two.
With the previous game now over two months away, the lack of revenue coming into the club is cause for concern but manageable according to Davies:
“It has an effect but it won’t derail us by any stretch of the imagination. Everyone is suffering, it’s not helpful and I don’t know the ins and outs to the penny. I know we aren’t in a brilliant situation but we are nowhere near any terrible situation.”
There are reasons to be optimistic with the Government expected to lay out a road map shortly which would see the return of grassroots football.
Whether that be with or without fans remains to be seen, however with the year progressing Davies is hopeful that the return of football will bring about some normality:
“We want to play competitive football as soon as possible, whether it be this season or the next. We want to be involved in exciting fixtures and we want seasons to be completed. If it’s not this one, we will look forward to the next one.
“It’s been nice to see how motivated as a group we are, how much it means to everybody and ultimately seeing everyone work together in a new way.”