‘We’ve got to hope they’ll come back’ - City hopes for fans return in claim for future glory
- Credit: Archant
Ely City Football Club are not oblivious to off-field struggles due to Covid-19, but despite that, they are determined to fulfil their ambitions and achieve success.
The Robins have received grants to improve and repair facilities on and off the pitch, such as £1,500 from the pitch preparation fund and £5,000 from the Football Foundation.
These grants are just some of the ways the Robins have kept their heads above water, but club secretary Derek Oakey admits it is not the solution to all of their troubles.
“We’ve had grant aid and other bits and pieces, but as a club, our outgoings are still over £1,000 a month and if you’ve got virtually no revenue coming in, it’s difficult,” he said.
“The problem is, a lot of the public don’t realise that we still have bills. They think you’re not playing or paying your players, so why do you need money?”
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Oakey has seen players and managers come and go during his 38 years as secretary, but one thing that has remained the same is supporters.
For non-league and grassroots clubs, gate receipts are a valuable source of income on matchdays, which Ely have benefitted from since welcoming back fans from lockdown.
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“Attendance has increased marginally during the pandemic, but how do you get those people down there?” Oakey said.
“You see how few people we get down there, so will the community care if we weren’t around? That’s a question the management committee frequently ask.
“We’ve just got to hope that they will come back.”
During lockdown, Ely have reported no official positive Covid-19 cases and unveiled their newly-refurbished clubhouse at the Demcom Stadium in August, without any outside funding.
It’s one way the club is trying to bolster its appeal to future generations, and through this, Oakey is confident City can transfer their off-field ambitions onto the pitch.
“The clubhouse is unrecognisable from how it was,” he said.
“That’s all happened because of the lockdown and that’s been and will be a huge benefit to the club as much as the clubhouse is now a place people will want to go to.
“The club wants to move forward and wants to be where Soham, Histon and others are, and Covid won’t stop us having that ambition.
“We’ve got a wonderful facility that we are slowly improving and hope to give the city some success one day.”