For us as a club, and for the football industry as a whole, we continue to face so many uncertainties and frustrations, but it is vital that we maintain a sense of perspective.
No matter how complex the difficulties facing the game, they pale into insignificance alongside people’s health. Our thoughts and best wishes continue to be with everyone struck by this dreadful virus; they matter the most. We also continue to offer our heartfelt gratitude to the heroic NHS and frontline workers – and the incredible work being done by our own AFC Wimbledon Foundation and the Dons Local Action Group. Hundreds of volunteers are selflessly giving up their time to help the most vulnerable in our community; they are a huge credit to our club and to society in general.
Naturally, we are all missing football immensely. So many of you want to know whether the ‘current’ campaign will be abandoned or completed behind closed doors - and what’s going to happen when the new season kicks off. When will that be? Will we be in our new stadium? Will we be allowed to let fans in?
There’s nothing we would love more than to answer all those questions in full; in fact, rest assured we will do once we know for sure ourselves. So much is riding on what the EFL decides to do about the remainder of this season – and then, going forward, what the new season will look like. What we do know is that even if the league does start up again, it will be behind closed doors and, as such, fans won’t be able to watch our remaining home fixtures from the stands.
Until then, our priority is to do everything we can to ensure our club remains financially secure and ready for whatever the future holds. Many clubs are already facing severe financial difficulties, especially as they can no longer depend on the match-day income they would have expected from the remaining fixtures this season. Whilst we are not in the same perilous position as some, we are, however, not immune; we, too, were expecting to receive this income and all the other revenues that come from match days – like ticketing, beverage, programme and merchandise sales. The fact these will not be forthcoming is something none of us could have foreseen and their loss does have a financial impact on us.
However, there is a way that fans can help the club through this difficult period and there is one special request we need to make straight away – directed at our current season ticket holders. Many of you have already contacted us and generously offered to waive your entitlement to a refund should – as we expect – the remaining games of this season either be abandoned, or played behind closed doors. We can't thank you enough for doing this. This is money we could have never budgeted in advance for because nobody could have foreseen the coronavirus crisis. Your contribution simply underlines how deeply you understand, as owners, how best to protect and help our club when we need it most.
Given the example you have set, we now respectfully invite all our season ticket holders to consider donating the remainder of your season ticket for this season by not asking for a refund. Without question, it will be the best possible way of helping us maintain our club’s financial stability. Naturally, we entirely understand that some of you have suffered considerable financial hardship and, of course, we will fully respect your right to a refund should you fall into that category. Accordingly, we would kindly ask that if you do wish to receive your refund, please contact us. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 June 2020 to let us know. If we have not received an e-mail for refund by this date we will assume that you wish to donate the remainder of your season ticket. This is an issue we will need to resolve quickly so we know exactly where we stand.
Yes, these are certainly frustrating and unpredictable times but, unlike many clubs, we have so much to look forward to, not least our return home. It’s in all our interests to do everything we can to make certain that future – which we can see taking shape every day down at Plough Lane – becomes the reality we’ve been dreaming about for so long. Let's focus on what lies ahead and do everything we can to safeguard our journey home. Against all the odds, we are on course and – with your help – we can prepare to make next season truly historic.