Cambridge United to be placed in 'hibernation mode' due to coronavirus pandemic
Ian Mather has announced that Cambridge United intend to furlough the vast majority of the club’s staff.
The U’s chief executive has released a statement to supporters outlining the significant financial implications that the coronavirus pandemic is having at the Abbey Stadium, given the current postponement of the Football League season.
With the income streams largely coming to a halt, it has had an impact on a number of departments across the club.
They have been given a boost by landlords Grosvenor in effect writing off the rent for the Abbey for the forthcoming season, but the club intend to use the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme that protects employees who are unable to perform their duties.
It means that United have placed the vast majority of their staff, including coaches, into furlough, while a decision in relation to the players is being deferred pending the outcome of ongoing discussions between the EFL and the PFA.
In a bid to support the cashflow of the club, some supporters had shown a willingness to purchase season tickets for the 2020/21 season in advance, and they will be given a short, two-week window to do so from this Thursday (April 2).
Cambridge United Community Trust’s ‘Here for U’s’ programme will continue during the difficult times though.
Ian Mather’s letter to supporters in full:
“The coronavirus outbreak is clearly having significant financial implications for Cambridge United along with all professional football clubs and many other parts of society.
“Whilst there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding this unprecedented situation, everyone at the club from the owner and the board of directors down remain positive and united on ensuring we can steer a path through this together. But it is not going to be easy.
“Our income stream has, largely, come to a stop with the postponement of fixtures and virtually all other activities which has had an adverse effect across a number of departments of the football club.
“It was clear very quickly that in order to manage this situation, we had to find ways of reducing the club’s cost base.
“We have received fantastic support from our landlords Grosvenor, who have in effect written off our rent for the Abbey Stadium for the forthcoming period. That was of course very welcome news, as was the announcement of the provision of some loan finance provided by the EFL last week.
“The government’s announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has also provided a way for us to retain our staff by placing them on furlough leave. This protects employees who are simply unable to perform their duties as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown.
“In the best interests of the football club we have now furloughed the vast majority of our staff, including coaches.
“A decision in relation to the players is being deferred whilst discussions are ongoing between the EFL and the Professional Football Association who represent the players.
“We are effectively, hibernating the football club until a point in which we have further clarity around when the current season will conclude and next season will begin.
“This has of course not been an easy decision to make, but I would like to thank all of our staff who have acted diligently and professionally to perform their roles during a period of such uncertainty.
“Additionally, the outstanding support of our passionate and loyal fanbase right from the outset of this situation has been very encouraging to us all.
“There has been a wave of support across Cambridge United’s online channels, fan forums and from supporters who have been in contact with the club directly.
“A portion of supporters and current season ticket holders have also made it very clear that they would be willing to support the club financially by securing their 2020/21 season tickets, despite not currently having the clarity as to when that season would take place.
“As always, we are truly grateful for the unwavering support of our fanbase. This would provide a helpful boost in revenue that would make the process of managing the upcoming months slightly easier.
“With that mind, Cambridge United will be placing season tickets on sale for a short two week window from Thursday at 9am, to allow those supporters who are willing and able to buy their season tickets now to support the cash flow of the football club.
“To be clear, once this period comes to an end, supporters will still be able to secure their season tickets at a later date.
“We understand not every supporter will be able to do this during the current climate and we will re-open the opportunity to buy 2020/21 season tickets once the overall picture of next season is clearer.
“However, we are doing this simply to allow the opportunity for supporters who have stated they are willing to show their financial support now.
“Further details about this will be communicated in the coming days, and we thank all of our supporters for their fantastic support through this difficult situation.
“Right now the most important thing is of course for everybody to stay safe and continue to follow government advice to stay at home in order to protect the NHS.
“Despite the furloughing of staff, our ‘Here For U’s’ programme will remain available thanks to our Community Trust.
“It is heartening to see the difference it is making at this difficult time so if you are in need of a friendly chat or require emotional, practical or physical support, please contact our careline on 01223 632 129.
“We will get through this together and we remain United in Endeavour to do so.”