Ottery St Mary AFC during the Covid-19 crisis - the chairman’s thoughts

Ottery AFC at home to Totnes&Dartington FC. Ref shsp 34 19TI 8513. Picture: Terry Ife

Ottery AFC at home to Totnes&Dartington FC. Ref shsp 34 19TI 8513. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary Football Club are, like so many sporting bodies, under a very real threat in terms of their future as the country battles the Covid-19 crisis.

Chairman and manager of both the Ottery men’s 1st team and the Ottery ladies, Mikey Ringer says: “This coronavirus situation is serious. There are no two ways about it and it is obviously something we have not seen before.

“I am hoping that, as a club, we have taken all the right steps, There’s no doubt that we have to work together as one to stop the spread and we simply must all take responsibility to ‘do the right thing’. Maybe, im hindsight, we could have all done things differently, but now we have to act as one to go forward, we are trying through the club’s social media outlets to keep everyone’s spirits up with fun and games online with trivia, challenges, have a laugh, question-and-answer sessions, online FIFA tournaments and so much more.

“There is one thing we can all do and that is to take heed of the advice we are all being given from the government and ensure we stick at it and, together, we will come through this.”

There is one issue that the Otters chairman is finding it very hard to digest.

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He explained saying: “It is an increasing concern for us that there are some folk who are using our football club grounds to exercise their dogs and, while the majority of folk are responsible and do pick up any mess, sadly, there’s a minority who don’t and it is putting people at risk! Mind you, irresponsible dog owners are just part of the problem for we also seem to be a magnet for teenagers sitting up on our lane pitch, doing what teenagers do when the sun is out, but this is not the time. Get a life people, more to the point, keep your life and keep the lives of others – safe.”

He continued: “What I would like to say is that we, as a club, salute the brave folk who are ‘key workers’ particularly the NHS workers who are very much ‘in the front line’.

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Mikey then turned his attention to the more general matter of the club finances and the current Covid-19 situation.

He said: “This current situation is certainly going to hurt us. It’s hard to quantify the exact financial loss, but there’s no doubt that we project to lose in the region of £21k before the end of May and that will take some recovering from.”

He continued: “We hear of ‘financial rescue packages’ being put together for professional clubs but I’d beg them further up the football food chain not to dismiss us grass roots clubs – without us there would be no football at the highest level. We are where the journey for so many in the game begins.

“I recently had a long conversation with the chairman of a South Midlands Step Seven Football Club and they are in a much worse position than we are. Their club debts have risen out of control with the cancellations of tournaments. No games means no revenue and no revenue means pressure from the landlords.”

He rounded the conversation off saying: “Ottery St Mary Football Club will get through this and will emerge stronger. We are fortunate to enjoy great support from loyal sponsors who we know are also suffering in these troubled times. We are very much ‘one club’ and ‘one community’ and, in recent years, the ‘phoenix’ that is Ottery St Mary AFC has started to rise and, this present hiatus accepting, it will continue to rise before setting itself into full flight!”

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