Ottery St Mary FC chairman: ‘Covid-19 will take football to the brink’

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife

Honiton 2nds at home to East Budleigh. Ref mhsp 40-16TI 9156. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Ottery St Mary Football Club are, like so many similar sized sporting groups, preparing for the ‘long haul’ and what will no doubt be a battle simply to ‘stay in business’ as the Covid-19 crisis runs its course.

The Ottery club chairman, Mikey Ringer, who also manages both the men’s first team and the Otterettes (the ladies’ team) says: “This whole situation will surely take us to the brink. We are exploring all options and speaking with authorities with regard to any assistance we can draw on.

“With what we are hearing, that’s it in terms of our football season, but, and I am sure it’s the same for many clubs, football is only part of what we are all about at Washbrook Meadow.”

He continued: “We are fortunate to have our own grounds with a clubhouse, but now the coronavirus situation has led to us having to cancel those all-important functions such as the regular weekly skittles matches, the popular bingo sessions and private parties, all of which help to generate the income we need to keep all aspects of the club going.”

The Otters chairman then spoke directly about the football side of the business.

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He said: “With the very existence of the social side in doubt, and it certainly will be the longer this situation runs, football and the incomes we generate from matches are a huge part of our efforts and without the football being played, our income is effectively nil, but we still have bills to pay, grounds to maintain. We have already suffered big time in terms of match postponements through the weather this season and, with the likelihood being that there will not be another ball kicked this season, I’d estimate that we are going to be, at a minimum, some £20,000 down in terms of income over the season!”

He then said: “You know, it’s been said by many already and, as important as football is in our lives, people and their lives are of far greater importance and, by pulling together, we can get through this.

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“I must say it is so refreshing to hear from our players and coaches that they are fully supportive of the tough decisions we have had to make so far.

“What’s more, I have been left so proud of the fact that many players are now coming forward to say they are prepared to help with all the jobs that are of the ‘unseen’ variety, but are so vital to the upkeep of our ageing ground.”

The chairman next spoke of the club sponsors saying: “Our sponsors have also been supportive and understand that what they signed up for has been cut short and we are working with them to move forward together.”

He concluded: “There’s no doubt that these are tough - and strange - times, but there are always positives to draw from any situation and the big one here is that we are seeing a very general ‘in this together’ attitude, and if, as a club, we can stop the infection of at least one person then we will have served our purpose and, when the green light is given for normal life to resume we will be ready for action.”

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