Port Vale chief executive Colin Garlick spoke to our Vale reporter Mike Baggaley after the EFL announced all games are being suspended until at least April 3 because of the threat of coronavirus.
Here are key points from that interview.
THE PLAYERS WILL BE TRAINING FROM HOME FOR THE NEXT WEEK
The chief executive confirmed that none of the players have been diagnosed with the virus or had to self isolate.
However, asking them to effectively ‘work from home’ for seven days is a precaution and gives them a week’s break from full training to prepare for what will either be an extended season, or a hectic schedule to fit in the final nine games.
So, the players have been given their own fitness regimes to follow at home.
He explained: “Training sessions, whether that be the first team of the academy, will not be taking place on site here.
“The players are in effect away from the business, but we trust them. They are professional and we have set up training programmes for them to do themselves to keep themselves sharp.
“It’s not unusual because we tend to do this sort of thing in the close season.
“This isn’t a pre-season by any means but the same principles will apply.
“That has been set in place with the manager and the backroom staff for them to follow next week.
“We are able to follow reporting procedures with them so, when we do get games back on, they are ready to go. So, this is not a holiday and won’t be treated like that.”
So, the chief executive said asking the players to train from home for a week is both a precaution and a chance for them to rest after 37 league games.
He added: “Our minds are on both really. Yes, we think the season will probably be extended but we could have a very intense periods as well. So, part of our thinking is we are prepared for any eventuality.
“I hope we aren’t going to be playing Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. But the simple answer is I don’t know. But I think whatever happens, the likelihood is that it will be extended.”
HOW WILL SUSPENDING GAMES AFFECT THE CLUB FINANCIALLY?
The Vale chief executive said: “Of the four fixtures we’ve got, we were scheduled to have three at home, so that is going to hit our cashflow enormously.
“But always, week in week out, supporters’ safety, health and enjoyment is our number one priority. Financial issues always come down the list after that.
“But we can’t get away from the fact that three of our next four fixtures were due to be at home. And of course there is the excitement of the season.
“We are in the business end of the season, inside the last ten games. We are where we are and the momentum.
“It is the same for every club but it is taking the wind out of your sails.”
THE LOCAL ECONOMY
The chief executive says suspending games has knock-on effects particularly for part-time, matchday staff.
He said: “It affects the local communities around all the clubs. We don’t need programmes, pies or cola so local suppliers are affected.
“We would bring in around 120-150 staff on a matchday. There won’t be anyone here (this Saturday). So, those people are not going to be earning. That money might be vital to them. If they haven’t got that money then they can’t spend it. So, again this cycle continues.
“But we are in an unprecedented experience. It is totally different, we are having to adapt just like everybody else is. But we are a focal point of the community because we are a local, community, family-orientated football club.”
WHAT ABOUT OTHER PARTS OF THE CLUB?
The Vale Foundation, the club’s community scheme, have announced that all community sessions that were to be held at Port Vale facilities are cancelled until at least April 3.
However, some other sessions held at sports centres are due to continue.
Meanwhile, Vale’s ticket office and club shop will remain open.
Garlick added: “We are going to keep the shop and the ticket office open – so you can still buy season tickets!
“There probably doesn’t seem a lot of point in buying individual match tickets at this point until we know when they are. So we will keep that side of the commercial business running.”
As for fans who have already bought tickets for the three home games affected by the suspension, he said: “That’s a fair point. At the moment we don’t know when games are going to be rescheduled. We are assuming they are going to be.
“So, anyone who has bought a ticket, I would ask them to hang on to their tickets because they will certainly be valid for the date of any rearranged game. If, at that point, you are unable to make that particular game then fine we will give you a refund at that point.
“Indeed, if you do really want your refund from a cash-flow point of view then that is fine, but my preference would be to just hang fire until you know when the game is and if you can’t make it, by all means get in touch with us.”
OTHER FUNCTIONS AT THE GROUND
Saturday night’s Love Football Hate Racism Event, hosted by Leon Legge, has been postponed by the organisers.
However, the club are planning to continue to host other functions including conferences and weddings.
The chief executive added: “That event on Saturday night will not take place. But we have conferences in place with people using our facilities next week.
“So, we do the speed awareness courses here. Those will take place and a number of other conferences.”
WHAT HAPPENS TO THE SEASON?
The regular campaign is due to finish on April 25, but Vale still have nine games to play. The chief executive’s view is that it may well be extended, but that’s purely his best guess.
He said: “I can see an extended season because I really wouldn’t want to see us playing, Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.”
His personal view is that he wouldn’t want games to be played behind closed doors.
He added: “I’m not one who would have been in favour of playing behind closed doors, I can sort of see the logic to a point in the circumstances but the whole matchday experience is meeting up with your friends at games. The real social aspect of the community coming together is key. If you play games behind closed doors, that all goes really. Yes we could have recorded the games I suppose and streamed them live – and who knows where this is going to go?
“But that’s not going to happen now.”