COLFC in the lockdown – update

With the country remaining in the grip of the coronavirus crisis, our focus remains on supporting those in our community who face a frightening combination of isolation and vulnerability.

To this end City of Liverpool FC has mobilised COLFC Community and COLFC Welfare as part of the Liverpool City Region social solidarity movement, alongside our Everton and Liverpool supporting friends at Supporters Supporting Foodbanks and the Spirit of Shankly supporters’ union.

We continue to provide weekly food parcels to those in need and will shortly be launching a fund raising campaign to purchase PPE for care workers in homes where both workers and elderly residents have been left criminally exposed to the lethal dangers of the Covid-19 virus.

Although football seems a world away from the situation we find ourselves in, the club that provides us with a sporting focus for our community solidarity has to continue to function.

Following the members’ registration process for the virtual AGM, the process of submitting nominations for candidates to stand for the board of directors has been undertaken.

The existing directors standing down at this AGM following their three year term are Paul Manning, Peter Furmedge, Cathy Long and Peter Manning.

Members will receive details of those nominated for election and the voting process in line with the timetable issued on registration for the AGM.

Of the directors standing down, Peter Manning has informed us that he will not be seeking re-election and will therefore be vacating the position of Club Secretary.

The club owes Peter a huge debt of gratitude for the time, effort and stress he has invested in ensuring that the mountain of administration that comes with the role of club secretary has been undertaken to the highest standard.

We also thank him for being the perfect club ambassador in his dealings with other clubs and the various football authorities that we work with. Perhaps only those who have fulfilled the club secretary role will fully appreciate both the workload and the level of responsibility involved.

With the official end of the European football season still to be announced, and uncertainty still surrounding the timetable for, and indeed the possibility of, completing Premier League and EFL fixtures and European competitions, it is impossible to plan for the resumption of football activities with anything approaching a degree of certainty.

Nevertheless, we can announce that our pre-season programme, whenever that may be, will include a fixture with FC United of Manchester.

We were delighted to accept the invitation to visit Broadhurst Park, a magnificent example of a community football facility that we would be proud to emulate here in Liverpool.

Being the most high profile community owned club in the region, FCUM has a distinctly left leaning supporter culture and provided the founders of COLFC with some important pointers in our pre-formation period.

This will be a historic fixture between the two cities’ premier community owned clubs and something we have looked forward to since COLFC was just a mad idea being kicked around by some local football activists.

We are also pleased to inform members that work continues to progress towards securing a site for the COLFC Community Stadium.

Following on from a meeting with council officers in March, hosted by our partners at the Fazakerley Community Federation, a further meeting with officers from Liverpool City Council’s Regeneration team was held last week via Zoom.

While we are still at the pre-public consultation stage, details will not be divulged on public forums, however, it is fair to say that things have moved apace in recent months.

The club places on the record our thanks to the city council’s Regeneration team and to Fazakerley Community Federation for their help and support with this.

Whilst we continue to work towards a home of our own, the club will play next season as tenants of Bootle FC at the Berry Street Garage Stadium.

It is fair to say that a transformation has been taking place at the Vesty Rd ground following Berry St Garage’s involvement with Bootle.

Prior to the premature cessation of our season, a huge upgrade in the clubhouse and changing facilities had taken place.

Also, while this may seem a minor thing, COLFC benefitted hugely from having a container sited alongside the Dodge Kop. This facility gave us important storage space as well as somewhere where the matchday administration could be undertaken.

For the forthcoming season, the improvements have continued. In particular, a new hospitality lounge has been installed alongside the decking at the “Romans” end of the ground. This will be a help in professionalising our hospitality for visiting clubs and football officials.

Being a fashion conscious lot (but somehow managing to look anything but!), COLFC supporters have always taken an interest in the design of the club kit. Since formation, this has led us to purchase adidas team kits. While this has always involved a greater expense to the club than some of the offers made from our leagues’ commercial partners, COLFC kits have carried a degree of gravitas and our first purple shirt was included in a travelling exhibition of Iconic Football Shirts curated to coincide with the 2018 World Cup. In addition, last year, COLFC was chosen to take part in the “Purple Sole” launch event for a limited edition Merseyside adidas Trimm Trab range. In previous close seasons we have considered other kit manufacturers and we will be doing so again. For example, the NPL’s association with Kappa would enable us to make some savings on the cost of adidas kits – as long as it looks good!

Hopefully, as the weeks pass, we will begin to see where the end of the current crisis begins. In the meantime please watch out for our updates and help us to spread the word through sharing on your social media. Also, please continue to look after yourselves and your loved ones by following the strictest guidance on social distancing and the isolation of our vulnerable elders, those with disabilities and those with health conditions.

COLFC sends solidarity and support to the essential workers that are keeping us afloat through this crisis. “The people choose their own heroes”.

COLFC Board of Directors

Coronavirus update from the club

PURPLE LOCKDOWN – UPDATE

The club’s last fixture, away to Prescot Cables in February, is now a distant memory and people’s minds have quite rightly been focused upon more important things than football. The Covid-19 crisis has enveloped the entire planet and, as has always been the way, here in Liverpool the community has rallied around to protect and support our vulnerable and isolated residents. COLFC is proud to be part of this social solidarity movement, mobilising our COLFC Community and COLFC Welfare resources and repurposing our Purple Pantry Food Union project to provide weekly food parcels to older people in isolation. We are also proud that the club’s sponsors and partners have enthusiastically backed our transformation from football club to community organisation.

CLUB SPONSORS

As always, the club’s main sponsor Regenda Homes has been at the forefront of working alongside COLFC’s efforts in the community. In addition to providing crucial funds that enable our club to function, Regenda has always been a big supporter of COLFC Foodbank, with regular donations being made by both staff and the organisation itself. Of course, and as if it would be any other way, when the current restrictions began and we announced our intention to begin delivering weekly food parcels to older people in isolation, Regenda immediately responded with a delivery of supplies. As always, COLFC is both grateful and proud to be associated with Regenda and places on the record our sincere thanks to Michael Birkett, Kevin Short and all the Regenda staff that we have got to know over the past four years.

The Progressive Lifestyle Solutions (PLS) logo has featured on the club tracksuits for the past two seasons, after having previously been our reserve team shirt sponsor. PLS is a multi-award winning social enterprise, based on Walton Road in Kirkdale, specialising in the provision of accommodation for vulnerable residents transitioning to independent living. The PLS Food Foundation is a partner in COLFC Community’s Purple Pantry Food Union, alongside Liverpool Independent Cooperatives. Together with Regenda, PLS responded immediately to the club’s efforts to support the vulnerable and isolated during the coronavirus crisis by providing a delivery of food and household items and assisting in stocking the shelves of our store. Like Regenda, PLS is much more than a sponsor, sharing and supporting the core values that make COLFC much more than a football club.

Supporters attending our Liverpool County FA Senior Cup victory over Everton (this result still stands!) will have been introduced to Perfect Getaways and some will have booked holidays and breaks with a Purple Perfect Getaways discount. Unfortunately the termination of the season cut short a partnership that was just beginning to gain momentum. Nevertheless, club members that have bookings with Perfect Getaways have had nothing but praise for the way they are handling customer concerns during what is a very difficult and uncertain time for the travel industry. We wish Dave and all of his team good health and good fortune as they work to ensure that their customers are looked after and have holidays to look forward to when better times return.

The Morning Star is the world’s only English language daily newspaper of the left. Staunch in its support for the working class and for Jeremy Corbyn, COLFC has a natural ally in the Morning Star. In addition to match sponsorship, the paper has provided extensive coverage of our club’s footballing and non-non footballing activities. Morning Star journalist James Nalton provides a weekly COLFC feature in the paper, and has covered the social inclusion and anti-racism work of COLFC Community, the work around mental health undertaken by COLFC Welfare, and has extensively featured the club’s robust response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the abject failure of the government to instigate appropriate measures in a timely and effective manner. Please subscribe to the Morning Star here: www.morningstaronline.co.uk/subscribe

Our latest partners, GT Decorators, didn’t even get to feature in a home programme due to the cancellation of the Northern Premier League season! Nevertheless, the sponsorship has continued and has enabled the club to pay bills and continue our work in the community throughout the current period of restrictions. The club thanks GT Decorators for their absolutely crucial support at what is a difficult time for all businesses. We look forward to fully developing our partnership when the football returns.

GREAT PURPLEISATION!

Speaking of the match programme, we must give a mention to Andy Wilson of FC Print & Finish. FC undertakes the printing of the club’s match programmes, tickets and marketing materials, including our pitchside advertising boards. As well as producing the highest quality materials for the club, Andy is incredibly patient in waiting for payment! Obviously with no further home fixtures, including a couple of big local derbies not being played, we have asked Andy to be even more patient than usual. In the meantime, any members or supporters requiring any print products can return Andy’s favour to the club and give FC Print & Finish a call on 0151 289 5232.

Finally, our biggest sponsors, you our members and supporters; COLFC literally is you, you are the club, it was formed by and exists for you as representatives of the wider Liverpool community. Since the cancellation of the league season, not a single member has queried ongoing membership fees – in fact one member, who initially required assistance with affording membership payments, has now upped his monthly payment to £100! In addition, not a single season ticket holder has requested any repayment for the matches outstanding. On top of this, our fundraising volunteers continue to bring in funds from the COLotto, Pingo, Last Partisan Standing and a tremendous effort to raise funds for the Purple Pantry food parcels. For all of this fantastic support, the board of directors is eternally grateful.

MOVING FORWARD

As football continues to be “the most important of the least important things”, COLFC will continue to work to support those in our community who face ongoing isolation and vulnerability to both the Covid-19 virus and the catastrophic money before life government policy. However we do still have to run a football club. Members will have registered for our “virtual” AGM and will be receiving further information from the club as the date approaches. We will continue to provide updates and arrange online discussions with members and supporters and, as the day that football returns becomes closer, further bulletins will provide exciting details about our pre-season programme and the continuing upgrades being made to the Berry Street Garages Stadium by Bootle FC.

Until we meet again, please look after yourselves and your loved ones by following the strictest guidance on social distancing and the isolation of our vulnerable elders, those with disabilities and those with health conditions.

COLFC sends solidarity and support to the essential workers that are keeping us afloat through this crisis. “The people choose their own heroes”.

COLFC Board of Directors

Season Null & Void – FA Final Decision

On Thursday 9th April the FA confirmed that the decision to declare the season beneath Step 2 null and void would be upheld.

Understandably, this decision has not been received with enthusiasm. In particular, we sympathise with those local clubs who were looking to end the season on a high note, with trophies and promotions on the horizon.

Everybody in non-league knows the amount of hard work that goes into just keeping a team on the pitch all season. Success at the end of a hard season makes the years of toil worthwhile; to have that taken away due to reasons far beyond the remit of football must be heart-breaking.

However, as Jurgen Klopp has famously stated, “football is the most important of the least important things”. The country is in the grip of a crisis unparalleled outside of wartime. While football often offers a welcome escape from life’s troubles, we cannot allow football to blind us to the gravity of the situation we are in.

Many people, including a number of our volunteers and players, have been infected by this virus. Many of us have friends or family working in front line occupations, risking their health and the health of their loved ones as a direct consequence of PPE provision that would be unacceptable health and safety practice in a routine production line environment, let alone in hospitals facing a killer pandemic.

Most of us are socially distancing, while our older and less well friends and relatives still face weeks, if not months, of further isolation. Unfortunately, some have also lost loved ones prematurely. Our sincere condolences go to all who have experienced such devastating loss.

Of course, one day, we will return to football. However, there is absolutely no certainty when that will be. The biggest clubs, in the European Clubs Association, along with FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League remain committed to the completion of the 2019/20 season. However, the prospect of this being completed before August remains remote. Similarly, both the EFL and National League have kept the option of completing the season on the table.

However, all of the competitions concerned involve professional clubs and players. Full-time professionalism awards clubs a greater degree of isolation and self-containment for their playing squads. In the semi-professional ranks we would be bringing people together for training and matches from an array of backgrounds, from social distancing to front line workers. In the current, and ongoing, climate that is not acceptable.

At the top of the tree, broadcasting revenues make “behind closed doors” a viable option. Obviously this diminishes the further teams are down the football pyramid and playing behind closed doors becomes less viable, although the National League does benefit from a TV deal.

Practically, as a club that relies on gate receipts to cover match related outgoings, we would not be able to consider a behind closed doors option. We also think it is likely that this would apply to clubs that rely on bar takings and the hire of facilities that remain indefinitely closed due to social distancing measures.

Ethically, we are loath to put the health and safety of supporters, volunteers, players and staff at risk should an economically, rather than scientifically, driven partial lifting of restrictions on gatherings be lifted. We believe that, up to the suspension of fixtures after 14th March, football had been unnecessarily cavalier with public health concerns for at least a week.

The blame for this lies fairly and squarely with the government and the disastrously laissez faire policy of herd immunity.

In the continued absence of a testing, tracing and isolating regime, COLFC remains unconvinced that herd immunity has been fully replaced as a government strategy. As such we remain resolute that our supporters, volunteers, players and staff will not be part of any “herd” should that potentially catastrophic, ideologically driven, policy of “taking it on the chin” rear its head again.

We will remain guided by trusted voices, such as Professor John Ashton and the World Health Organisation, and urge people not to be distracted from the task at hand by “nudge” messaging from the government’s Behavioural Insights Team. These, often conflicting, messages are not based on medical science but on behavioural economics and are intended to judge public reaction to political options, not provide public health information.

As things stand, COLFC remains more a community organisation that a football club. We have mobilised our COLFC Community volunteers as part of the Liverpool City Region social and solidarity economy. Parcels of food and household items are being delivered to vulnerable and isolated people on a weekly basis by our volunteers. Our Club Welfare Officer is using social media to provide links to sources of guidance and support, including resources for those who may feel that the current situation is affecting their mental health.

Our PurpsTV YouTube channel is being used as a platform for online fitness sessions, accessible to all ability levels, delivered by Juanita Steel Fitcamp. We ask that everybody involved with the club, in whatever capacity, does whatever they can to make sure our vulnerable neighbours are safe and well.

COLFC sends solidarity and support to all of those workers that are keeping us afloat through these difficult times. The healthcare workers; the nurses, medics, porters, cleaners and all the other staff that prop up the NHS in the face of cutbacks, lack of investment, PFI, outsourcing, low pay and lack of essential PPE. The workers in care homes and in retail, many of them among the most exploited and lowest paid in our economy, but essential to civilised life.

The transport workers, the workers in warehousing and distribution, and all of those that are keeping essential workers and our food stocks in the right places at the right time. The role of these workers must be rewarded with decent pay and the best of conditions, including the health and safety at work that has been criminally neglected in the face of the pandemic threat.

Until we meet again, please look after yourselves and your loved ones by following the strictest guidance on social distancing and the isolation of our vulnerable elders, those with disabilities and those with health conditions.

We remain in the match of our lives.

COLFC Board of Directors