Ahead of the festive period, owner's representative Peter Ridsdale has provided the following update for supporters.
When we wished everyone a happy new year last January, no one could have foreseen the challenges that 2020 was to bring not only to the football industry, but of course to the world.
Thoughts of a worldwide pandemic was the furthest thing on our mind as we entered the new year and the resulting chaos that we have had to manage has meant that whatever we thought was normal is now a distant memory.
As lock down came upon us in March, we had high hopes of finishing in a Play-Off position, but the results after ‘Project Restart’ were disappointing and we finished the season in ninth position.
The brief close season meant that we were soon into another challenging fixture list and we have had some outstanding results at Bournemouth, Brentford, Reading, Huddersfield, Norwich and QPR, but as with Project Restart, we have struggled with our home results. Hopefully the last two home wins against Middlesbrough and Bristol City are a sign of things to come.
We regularly comment on the financial stability at the football club which is solely down to the support of our owner. This year more than most, the financial challenges of having no gate receipts since March have put a substantial added burden on all football clubs and many have implemented wage cuts or deferrals and have struggled to maintain payments to creditors including HMRC.
We are in a small minority of clubs who have maintained all payment commitments. Once again, we make no apology for reminding everyone that our business model, totally down to our owner’s support, is one that we are proud of.
There are sometimes comments, albeit by a minority, who deride the prudent nature of our business plan, but it is at times like we are facing at present that complaints about transfer activity and investment in general need to be put into the context of the bigger picture that is challenging us as a company and of course all of us in our daily lives. It is to be hoped that the way that the club is run gives each and every one of you the confidence for the future.
Despite the financial challenges that we have faced we were able, as a result of another club’s financial misfortune, to acquire state of the art training facilities at Euxton. This training ground with its offices, gym, outstanding changing rooms, pitches and medical facilities adds to the club’s continuing investment in the infrastructure of the club and will be a major positive when attracting and retaining key players.
There have been comments for months about the playing contracts that expire in the summer and concerns about the strength of the playing squad if we are not able to extend some or all of these. It is always difficult to comment publicly about such matters, but suffice to say that we are satisfied that those players who have been offered terms to extend can have no complaints about the competitiveness of our offers and if any or all choose to go elsewhere, we will be in a position to bring in new blood to ensure that the squad quality is not only maintained, but hopefully enhanced. As always in football, time will tell!
I know many of you will have been impacted by the pandemic and our thoughts are with each and every one of our supporters who have lost family members. It is at times like these that our day-to-day complaints are put into context. We also recognise the struggle that the pandemic has had on many individuals’ mental health and we wish each and every one of you every best wish as you face the future. Our Preston North End Community and Education Trust continue to do outstanding work on a daily basis and if anyone needs help or assistance please do not hesitate to reach out for support.
Given what the last 12 months have thrown at us we enter 2021 in great shape. We look forward to welcoming you back to Deepdale as soon as possible.
In the meantime, on behalf of everyone connected with Preston North End, we extend our best wishes for the festive period and sincerely hope that 2021 brings back some form of confidence and normality to all of our lives.