To begin with I hope that everyone is continuing to stay safe and well against the continued backdrop of COVID-19 which it seems, for the time being at least, to be here for the long haul. Thankfully society is beginning to find a new way of operating with many more restrictions lifted than when last I provided a club update.
Focusing on the positives, we have been able to start training again which has been fantastic for the playing and backroom staff. We have been following the guidelines set out by the SFA and the Joint Response Group (JRG) to create a system that allows the team to get back to something like normality. Now in our third week of training, we are really looking forward to our first matches since March, with friendlies arranged against Civil Service Strollers and Penicuik Athletic scheduled for Tuesday 15th and Saturday 19th September respectively. We are hoping to add at least one more friendly, unfortunately these matches will be behind closed doors, with tight restrictions currently in place limiting even the numbers in our squad and backroom team.
I appreciate that our fans will be keen to see us play and to that end we will be making an announcement about season tickets very shortly. The season will begin without fans in attendance, therefore our season tickets will include details of our streaming service for matches until supporters are able to return to stadiums, which we hope will be as soon as possible. With that in mind I can confirm that the club has agreed an extension to our agreement with Spartans Community Football Academy for the use of Ainslie Park for the forthcoming season. Further to that we are delighted to confirm that the main pitch has been upgraded at the stadium which is a major plus point. The team at Spartans CFA have done a great job in making the facilities at Ainslie Park as safe as possible and we appreciate their efforts in this regard.
I have as you would expect been in constant contact with our manager James McDonaugh throughout the lockdown period and James has provided me with an update from the team’s perspective:
“Despite all the restrictions over the past six months, we have been delighted to welcome several new faces to the club. Lee Hamilton, Danny Jardine and Ouzy See have all joined while Kelby Mason made his loan deal permanent. We have also added Zac Butterworth on loan from Rangers until January. We will be releasing more squad updates over the course of the next week so please stay tuned to our website and social channels!”
I would like to personally thank James who, along with his backroom staff, has been brilliant throughout the pandemic putting the best interests of the club first and foremost. It is fantastic to be able to see the management and the team building to the start of the new season with our opening BetFred Cup match with Livingston now less than four weeks away!
Off the park I would once again like to thank our supporters and the wider football community who have been extremely generous in donating to our Just Giving page. With almost £7,000 raised the club cannot thank everyone enough for making donations despite the obvious difficulties of lockdown. We are about to release details of this seasons commercial and sponsorship opportunities and we are very close to making our new online shop live, which will be extremely exciting moving forward.
Clearly the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away and as I touched on previously it seems we all must adapt to “new normals” such as they are. With this in mind we will continue to work with the SFA, SPFL and the JRG to ensure the club is always following the appropriate guidance. Ensuring Edinburgh City can adhere to the matchday and training requirements has not been an easy process; it has been exceptionally challenging both logistically and financially and these are burdens that the club will clearly have to bear for some time yet.
I will close by wishing everyone well and hope that we can now all look forward with a greater level of optimism to the return of football and something like normality! Please stay safe everyone and thank you once again for your support during these difficult times.