With a new season and a new chapter in the club’s history fast approaching, Rovers’ CEO Steve Waggott today outlines his plans for welcoming supporters back to Ewood Park.
‘Six months have now passed since our home game against Swansea City on February 29th, which was the last time we had supporters inside the stadium and we were able to generate any matchday income.
‘During this incredibly challenging and unprecedented period, the Owners have given the club their full support to enable us to pay all our staff and to help navigate through the unchartered waters brought about by COVID-19.
‘Due to intense work behind the scenes, we have successfully progressed through each phase set out by the EFL, from the players returning to training on May 25th through to the return to games behind closed doors, when Bristol City visited Ewood Park on June 20th.
‘Streaming of our last nine games of the 2019-20 season was made available to Season Ticket holders, with a high percentage taking up the service in recompense for not being able to watch our last four games at Ewood.
‘I would like to personally thank all those supporters who took up this option, along with others who stated that they didn’t want any refund, for helping the club during this difficult time.
‘With the games behind closed doors increasing our hard losses, due to no matchday or non-matchday revenue, we have only received some accelerated payments from the EFL and also from the Government, relating to our claim around the Job Retention Scheme, with the considerable financial gap once again made up by our Owners.
‘However, we are now entering into the next chapter of our pathway back to some sort of normality, under our new strapline WE ARE TOGETHER.
‘This is a chapter where the emphasis moves across to our loyal supporter base, where we urge everyone, when they can, to buy our new kit and training wear, and also a Season Ticket once we have clarity on when and how many games you will be allowed to access.
‘Once again, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes on seating plans, with social distancing applied, in order for the club to get approval for a COVID-19 adjusted safety certificate, as without that no supporters can come to games.
‘For clarity, when supporters are able to purchase a seat, it could well be that due to the revised stadium plan it will not be your normal seat until such time that restrictions are relaxed or removed.
‘On pricing, we are aware of the hardships the pandemic has brought to people and families, so we are looking at protecting our next generation of young supporters. To counter balance the price freeze for Under-18s, we will be having to make a necessary upward adjustment to the prices of other Season Ticket holders, whilst remaining competitively priced when matched against other clubs in the division.
‘We hope to announce Season Ticket prices in full next week and, as usual, we will arrange credit terms for those supporters who wish to spread the costs.
‘We now await the green light from the Government that our home game against Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday September 19th can be a pilot game for welcoming an agreed number of supporters back to the stadium and then, in consultation with our local Safety Advisory Group, agree on what percentage and areas of Ewood we could use going forward.
‘We also remain in regular dialogue with our catering partners with regards to concourse catering and to ensure a safe return for our corporate clients. We hope to have more information on what Hospitality services we can offer and we look forward to welcoming supporters back into our lounges very soon.
‘Should we get approval for the pilot game against Wycombe and it proves to be a success, along with an improvement in COVID-19 statistics in the area, then we are hopeful that we can get approval to host between 20-40% of stadium capacity – available for home supporters only from the Cardiff City (Saturday October 3rd) game onwards – which would give everyone connected with the club a massive lift.
‘Our players and manager are desperate to get you all back and we hope to do so as soon as it is allowed and safe to do so.
‘There are clear challenges ahead, but we are looking forward to the new season with optimism and we are excited about the prospect of seeing supporters back inside the stadium.
‘The loyalty, commitment and positivity demonstrated by our exciting new and renewed partners, including our new main club sponsor Recoverite, is highly encouraging for the coming season and for the longer term.
‘These past six months have been tough for us all, but with very supportive Owners, a fully committed management team, coaching staff and playing squad, and your loyal and steadfast support, WE ARE TOGETHER and we will get through this to ensure this great football club comes out of these recent dark times into a brighter future.’
Steve Waggott, CEO