With the morning sun just beginning to rise over a clear blue sky, I started to reflect that today would probably have been the club's busiest day of the year for our annual Sausage & Cider Festival and the McCue Cup match.
As it is, the club will stand eerily quiet today as we all come to terms with the strangest 6 week period any of us have experienced. Because of this, I thought it would be useful to give everyone an update as to what has been going on behind the scenes whilst we are all in lockdown.
One of the first things that was noticeable was the total loss of any income generated at the club. Without any matches, the bar closed, and all our corporate bookings cancelled, the harsh reality of the crisis became very quickly apparent.
Thankfully, the government's support schemes have been well structured. The club has been able to furlough all our permanent staff, with the club making up the additional 20% of wages, to enable us to support our employees in these difficult times. We also applied for the small business grant of £25,000 to cover our ongoing running costs and stock write-offs and I’m pleased to say that Wiltshire Council turned our application around very quickly and the money was in our bank account within 5 days.
Terry Aylett and David Roper have been looking at our finances very closely, running various 'what if' scenarios and as things stand, without any additional support or income, we can see ourselves clear until the end of August as a minimum, without dipping further into our reserves. Thankfully, I am sure we are in a stronger financial position than many other clubs.
In the absence of Steve Cameron (I’m pleased to report that his recovery continues), Terry and Georgina Plant, together with a number of M&J parents have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to unwind a number of rugby tours and The Clash bookings, which have all been cancelled. We are hopeful that all monies paid will be recouped, or at least carried over until next year.
Whilst the club has been closed, we have tried to continue with general maintenance and upkeep works. Stevie Lee has cleaned all the club chairs and upholstery. Our painters have finished off the Clubhouse. Nige Overton and Ben Bryant have finished the changing room lighting, converting everything to energy-saving PIR sensors. Clive Smith has finished the racking of the two external kit storage rooms in the new gym. Rob Bloxham is currently liaising with the Building Inspector to agree the layout of the final two storage rooms.
As far as our new gym is concerned, unfortunately the required transformer upgrade was cancelled by SSE and we now wait for them to rearrange. Dave Floyd is currently waiting for our electrical wholesalers to reopen so he can crack-on with the internal electrical fit out.
On the pitches, we have reseeded and fertilized pitches 1 and 2. Whilst this was an expensive exercise when cashflow is zero, the management team all recognize that this is an essential investment, to ensure that we can train and play when we get to the other side. In the meantime, under advice from Twickenham, the ground staff team continue with their weekly maintenance schedules, ensuring social distancing at all times!
On the playing side, Alan Low has completed a number of wide-ranging player, coach and team manager surveys and we are currently analysing the results to see what people think we are doing well, and where we have room for improvement.
Depending on how social distancing is finally unwound, Alan and the coaching team are looking at options as to how we could potentially resume some form of training, in whatever format that might be.
On a more mundane level, we have taken the decision to postpone this year’s AGM rather than try some form of ZOOM meeting - which would no doubt descend into chaos (I can feel your disappointment!). Once we have a revised date, we will let you all know.
As we know, the season finished abruptly, but I am sure we were all delighted to hear that our 1st XV were promoted to the SW Premier League. This is the highest league that the club has ever played in and no doubt everyone will join with me wishing Gavin and the boys the very best for what will be a challenging but rewarding season once it is able to start.