What We Know

With the first team squad returning to training and new arrivals signing in to join the Purple roller-coaster ride, thoughts are turning to when the football will start, who will be allowed in to watch the games and what going to the match will be like.

Many opinions are being voiced, plenty of confusion is being sown (not least by HM Government), and volumes of guidance are landing at the Purps HQ.

To try to make sense of it all and enable our supporters and volunteers to prepare for the upcoming season, COLFC is letting you know what we know.

First of all, the health and safety of all involved with COLFC, supporters, volunteers, players, officials and our matchday opponents, is paramount.

To this end, the Club Welfare Officer has worked through guidance from the government and the FA in order to produce a comprehensive risk assessment document from which matchday protocols will follow.

Things will be a bit different as we aim to ensure everybody remains safe while still enjoying the best matchday experience in non-league.

More detailed information will be provided as our home fixtures are announced.

As far as the players are concerned, the squad has been attending socially distanced training at the Purple Hub for several weeks now and, on Saturday, began full training in preparation for our pre-season programme.

Due to the extremely tight timescales and uncertainty about FA Cup fixtures, we are currently unable to finalise the pre-season fixture list.

However, confirmed pre-season fixtures at the time of writing are:

Tuesday 11th August – Cammell Laird (a)

Saturday 15th August – COLFC U19s @ Purple Hub

Saturday 22nd August – 1874 Northwich (a)

Tuesday 25th August – Vauxhall Motors (a)

Friday 29th August – Warrington Town (a)

Saturday 5th September – FC United of Manchester (a)

Unfortunately, as things stand, pre-season matches before 1st September will take place with no supporters present.

We are expecting a further announcement on this from the Department for Culture Media and Sport and will update you as soon as any further details are available.

However, current guidance is that supporters can attend matches from 1st September.

This is subject to the host club supplying a risk assessment document and putting appropriate measures in place within the ground in order to protect the public. COLFC will provide supporters with full details of such measures prior to each fixture.

It is unlikely that we will have a home pre-season friendly. A new “hybrid” pitch, which is due to be match ready in mid to late August, has been installed at the Berry Street Garage Stadium.

With Bootle’s NWCFL season due to start on 5th September, and a potential FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round taking place on 1st September, there is little to no opportunity to fit in a friendly match.

With regard to competitive football, our league season is scheduled to commence on 19th September.

This will be three days short of six months since our last match in the NPL, at Prescot Cables in February. Football starved Purps will be glad to know that our FA Cup journey may start earlier.

With 18 Step 4 clubs to be drawn from a pool of 180, there is a 9% chance of COLFC being drawn to play in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round on Tuesday 1st September.

If we are not drawn to play in this round we will enter the competition in the Preliminary Round on 12th September.

The Purps’ first step in the 2020/21 FA Trophy will take place on 26th September. As with the FA Cup, there will be no replays in this season’s FA Trophy.

Drawn matches in both FA competitions will go to extra time and, if necessary, penalties to ensure a result at the first time of asking.

We have not yet received confirmation from the County FA regarding the status of the Liverpool Senior Cup.

Since this competition was not declared null and void, we are assuming that the 2019/20 competition is still “live” and that we will face Bootle in a semi-final at some point.

We hope that you have kept safe and well since we were last together at the Purps, please continue to look after yourselves and keep an eye on our more vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbours.

As the government ducks and dives its way with impunity through this crisis, our famous Scouse Solidarity is as important as it has ever been.

Up The Purps, renew you membership, buy a season ticket and book a 5 aside pitch at the PurpleHUB!  

 

COLFC in the Lockdown: Update #4

It is now nineteen weeks since the Purps played football and sixteen weeks since the postponement of our home fixture with Pickering as the Covid-19 virus began to take hold and our primary focus turned to supporting those facing isolation and vulnerability.

Throughout the “lockdown” City of Liverpool FC has mobilised to provide weekly food parcels to those in need and to raise funds to purchase PPE for care homes where both workers and elderly residents have been left criminally exposed to the dangers of Covid-19.

We are grateful for the tremendous coverage that these efforts have received from our friends at the Morning Star, Long Reads: Football, and Bido Lito:

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/s/colfc-community-more-vital-ever

http://longreadsfootball.com/city-of-liverpool-fc-delivering-off-the-pitch-during-covid-19/

https://www.bidolito.co.uk/long-read-this-means-more-football-merseyside-covid/

This weekend, as the government moves in its own shambolic English exceptionalist way to get us out and about and spreading the virus, or “running it hot” to quote the ludicrous Michael Gove, thoughts among supporters are inevitably turning to when semi-professional football will return.

Anticipation has been heightened by speculation about an imminent “new season” announcement from the FA and the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

In light of the way resumption of the professional game has been managed, this also means debate about the nature of non-league football post lockdown.

Clubs at our level would not last for very long without paying spectators, so how can we make sure that our supporters, as well as the players and volunteers, are as safe as they possibly can be?

The COLFC board has been working on measures that we think can mitigate the threat from Covid-19, should our local public health officials and the Independent Sage panel agree that the game should return.

The club’s proposals have been submitted to the NPL and we will provide full details to supporters in due course.

With a provisional timetable for the resumption of non-league football expected soon, our planning for the new season has stepped up.

In particular, annual memberships are up for renewal in July and supporters are urged to take advantage of the monthly payment options available.

Ranging from an all-inclusive “Purple” package (including membership, season ticket and entry to our fundraising COLlotto and P-ingo cash prize games) to a basic membership, details are available on the club’s new website:

https://cityofliverpoolfc.co.uk/news/annual-membership-purchase-and-renewal-window-is-now-open/

We urge members to take up the season ticket offer. This will help with our Covid-19 mitigation plans, as we seek to remove as much cash handling from our matchday operation as is possible.

The club is also working towards enabling further cashless entry options through contactless card payments and an exciting new partnership with Skiddle, an online ticketing company:

https://www.skiddle.com/aboutus/

Many of you will be familiar with Skiddle through purchasing tickets for gigs and events.

We are pleased that we are helping them to break new ground through this innovative ticketing partnership that will, in turn, introduce City of Liverpool FC to a whole new online market.

Again, both we and Skiddle will be providing more details to supporters in the very near future.

Following on from our previous update, the search for a suitable kit provider has concluded in the club signing a two-year deal with Puma Teamwear.

We are delighted to enter into this partnership, that provides us with value for money, quality kit and a security of supply.

Under this arrangement, for the first time, all COLFC teams will be wearing the same kit, which will no doubt become as popular and iconic as previous Purps rigouts.

Puma Teamwear will be announcing our partnership on social media, but for some reason they have prioritised Borussia Dortmund and PSV over the Purps’ Adi to Rudi Dassler defection!

When our season starts, the new Puma purple will be donned by two new COLFC teams.

Both will be competing at Veterans level and will be managed by Purps “originals” who have been with the club from the start – former first team coach and assistant manager Tom Spearritt and club member Fran Stanton.

We are sure that all our members and supporters will get behind these new ventures for the club, especially when more details are revealed. Stay tuned!

Two signings for the forthcoming season that the club can confirm are those of Craig Cairns and Tony Gray.

Craig is already a crowd favourite, having scored 28 goals in our 2018/19 NWCFL title winning campaign, while Tony brings the experience and quality in attack that Craig Robinson has been working hard to bring to the club.

Purps will remember Tony scoring a good goal against us for Warrington Town in last season’s FA Cup replay. Welcome back Craig and welcome to the purple madness Tony!

While the football talk is exciting, and the club has more announcements in the pipeline as we prepare for a return to action on the pitch, please be aware that the current crisis is not over.

This government is still, and with greater vigour, pursuing a dangerous herd immunity policy in England, sacrificing health and lives for economic gain and political ideology.

Please continue to look after yourselves and your loved ones, particularly those with disabilities and those with health conditions.

COLFC Board of Directors

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

When inclusion means exclusion

When City of Liverpool FC first put a team on a football pitch, in a behind closed doors fixture at Stockport Town in the summer of 2016, it was the culmination of almost two years work. In order to achieve that 90 minutes the founder members had worked hard to bring together a community around the idea of a football club that represented the civic, social and cultural identity of Liverpool.

It was the coalescence of the founding group around core values of democratic ownership, equality and diversity that enabled the club’s birth as a Community Benefit Society in October 2015.

It was these values that attracted an influx of over 1000 members, many already active in football supporters’ organisations, and the appointment of a top class manager before a ball was kicked or a league position secured. It was these values that enabled us to use a social value approach to organisations like Regenda Homes, who became our main sponsors, and others like reserve team sponsors, Progressive Lifestyle Solutions CIC, and an array of smaller enterprises drawn from the founding group’s networks.

It is these values that, to this day, enable the seven days a week COLFC operation to function and put a team on the pitch on matchday. Every day of every week, COLFC is active. Potential sponsors and partners are met with, community organisations are networked, local councils are engaged in stadium plans, COLFC Community is working with marginalised groups to promote inclusion and social cohesion through football, and our teams at senior, reserve, womens and youth level train or play matches.

While they are the pinnacle of our club’s operations, first team matchdays are but a snapshot of what COLFC does, and has to do, to be a sustainable and successful community owned football club. Without the club’s core founding values, this activity doesn’t take place. Volunteers do not volunteer, partners do not enter partnerships, sponsors do not sponsor, and matchday becomes the accomplishment of this accumulated failure.

This is why we must protect our founding vision of a club in the image of Liverpool’s diverse culture and community. This is why all who value the unique Purps’ matchday, and our ability to field trophy winning, table topping teams, must defend the very thing that underpins it all – our core values. To be blunt, it is why we cannot afford to give any leeway whatsoever to those who would seek to exclude, or create a hostile environment for, sections of our community on the basis of racist, homophobic or sectarian politics and bigotry.

It cannot be a case of the club adopting a position of passive neutrality when forces are at work who would threaten the very basis of our reason for being, the foundation that underpins every single element of our success to date. Those who would turn a blind eye to far right elements in the name of “neutrality” and “keeping politics out of the game” must recognise that such apparent “neutrality” allows prejudice to fester and excludes those that the club was founded to include. It undermines, and will ultimately be terminal for, literally everything COLFC does – including putting a successful team on the pitch.

Those tempted by the arguments for this type of “neutrality” would do well to visit the website of Borussia Dortmund. The Bundesliga club has worked hard to remove neo-nazi elements from its Sudtribune “Yellow Wall” and offers guidance on popular slogans used by the hard right in their quest to regain a presence on the famous terrace: https://www.bvb.de/Fans/Fanabteilung/Kein-Bier-fuer-Rassisten BVB provides excellent take downs of these populist and deceitful slogans, a number of which have become staples of football orientated fascists throughout Europe:

  • “Politics do not belong in the stadium /” Politics is politics, football is football “
  •  “I have nothing against foreigners ..” / “I’m not a Nazi, but …”
  • “As long as my neighbour in the stadium cheers on our club, I do not care what he or she thinks”

Further evidence of the dangers of a passive approach to a hard right presence in football has emerged at New York City. Both the MSL and the club have adopted a hands-off approach to fascism in pursuing an “apolitical” policy towards the club’s support. As FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) has tweeted, this has led to a violent white supremacist element gaining a foothold within the club’s fan base:

https://twitter.com/farenet/status/1102499028057624576

COLFC’s constitution prohibits party political affiliation, this must always remain so. Similarly, the commitment to being an inclusive, democratically owned football club, representing Liverpool’s civic, social and cultural identity, remains crucial to the club’s every day, and matchday, existence. Just as it did when this commitment was articulated in the business plan submitted to the FA in support of our application to enter the non-league football pyramid.

To remain inclusive, to provide a community venue where nobody feels threatened because of, for example, their ethnic origin or minority culture, we must use every tool at our disposal to repel those who seek to exclude and discriminate. To this end, the club’s AGM will vote on resolutions intended to provide robust governance measures, including banning the far right Football Lads Alliance, Democratic Football Lads Alliance and any derivative or associated groups from the club.

These measures will protect the values at the core of the club’s operation, enhancing our ability to be the inclusive club that we must be if we are to succeed in representing our great, diverse, city. By necessity, our inclusion cannot be extended to, and abused by, those who would seek to exclude.