As our fans will appreciate these are unprecedented uncertain times and yet despite the fact that there’s little visibility with regard to the timing when things might revert back to normal, we thought it would be useful to do our best to update our supporters on a number of key issues.
Everybody knows that since the 2019/20 season was suspended last March the club, like all other EFL football clubs, has had to operate with no income and until we have more visibility on when supporters will be allowed back into stadiums there will be little or no improvement on this situation.
We have publicly stated that the club has not been in a position to offer refunds on last season’s season tickets and we are pleased that the vast majority of our season ticket holders have understood and appreciated the difficulty of this situation. Many have voiced their appreciation and acknowledged the fact that season tickets give discounts of up to six home games free versus match by match prices and the fact that we offered free iFollow PNE to all season ticket holders for the nine games that took place both home and away after lockdown. We believe that in the circumstances our fans have understood and supported our endeavours to compensate them in this way.
We are in the process of formulating a season ticket sales policy for the season 2020/21 season which we hope will be announced in the next couple of weeks. Based on current Government guidelines it looks as if season tickets will initially be rationed with numbers of around 25 to 30 per cent of normal capacity being an indicative maximum. We will be giving priority to Ambassadors and we hope that some supporters will be allowed back into stadiums from as close to the beginning of October as possible. This is still subject to Government confirmation. Social distancing requirements will substantially reduce our initial capacity although social bubbles will help add numbers.
The finances of a significant number of EFL clubs are extremely fragile with many having implemented player and staff wage cuts or deferrals and many have taken Inland Revenue payment holidays but are now being faced with substantial repayments. Many of our competitors cannot afford such repayments in the short term. Recent years have seen a number of clubs get into financial difficulty including entering administration and it is likely that there could be more to follow.
Our approach to running the club properly based on the continued support of our owner, has meant that we have paid our players and staff throughout the pandemic and have paid all of our creditors, including the Inland Revenue. We are sure that this approach will give our supporters the reassurance that they are supporting one of the healthiest clubs financially in the EFL.
There has been a lot of concern on social media regarding the number of players entering the last year of their contracts and also speculation with regard to investment in squad rebuilding. We are acutely aware of the contract situation with all of our players and are in constant discussions with the representatives of the relevant players. We will update our fans as and when there is specific player news. We will also continue with our policy of trying to strengthen the squad as and when the right players become available. One thing that we will not apologise for is our wage strategy and recruitment policy which will remain in line with the need to continue to ensure the long term health of the football club.
Our players will return to train in the next few days and the new season is a matter of weeks away. Having come through one of the most challenging times in recent history we enter the new season with continued optimism and safe in the knowledge that we are financially as well placed as any of our competitors.
Thank you for your continued support.