Since my May Update, it’s fair to say that not everything I covered has gone to plan and/or as hoped for and whilst it may come across as the easy option to blame the continuing restrictions imposed on us by Covid Protocols, I can only ask supporters to accept that this is the reality and not an excuse.
For ease of reference, where appropriate, I have copied the topics I covered in May in italics, followed by an update…
The Club Office and Shop remain exiled from Forthbank. The Office is managed remotely by working from home and the Shop is still located at Colin Rowley’s business premises in Springkerse. With The Peak back up and running, Active Stirling are also looking to get Forthbank re-opened in the near future and I’m confident that, subject to the inevitable Covid-related Health and Safety issues being addressed, we can be back home well in advance of the start of next season.
Unfortunately, due to the continuing Covid restrictions, we remain exiled from both the office and the Club Shop, with no immediate prospect of a permanent return. We are, however, working closely with Active Stirling with regards to match day access and arrangements for the new season. The way the Premier Sports Fixtures have landed, we have additional “breathing space” given our first home match isn’t until Tuesday 20 July versus Heart of Midlothian.
SUPPORTERS LIAISON DIRECTOR
I am delighted to be able to confirm that, with immediate effect, John Daly, is taking on this role and, without delay, he will be seeking to recruit a Supporters Liaison Officer from our fan base to work alongside him. Volunteers play an essential role at every lower league club but most crucially at those that are fans owned and very soon John will be reaching out to seek volunteers for a number of essential tasks, including on match days.
John is up and running and indeed has already touched base with a number of supporters, following on from Club matters raised at the Supporters’ Trust AGM. The recruitment of volunteers is ongoing and my thanks to those that have already stepped up to the plate.
FIRST TEAM & REPLICA KIT
As previously intimated, with our major sponsor, Prudential, rebranding, we took the decision to replace both home and away kits for season 21/22. The Commercial Team is close to finalising the back of shirt & sleeve sponsors and I hope to be in a position to reveal mock-ups of the “finished articles” before the end of this month.
I apologise for the lack of progress on this one. However, I am pleased to confirm that all the Shirt Sponsors have been agreed and I am expecting advance delivery of one of each of the home and away “finished articles” on Friday of this week, with full delivery of all the replica shirts no later than the end of next week.
On receipt of the advance delivery shirts, we will arrange for a player to model them and get photos up on the Website and Social Media. The Commercial Team is in the process of finalising pricing which will include discounts, given we are replacing both kits due to the Pru’s re-branding. On behalf of everyone at Stirling Albion, I extend my extreme gratitude to the Pru for making this financially possible.
I fully appreciate that the choice of Home Shirts was limited. We had the same constraints with selecting the Away Shirt to ensure that the new Pru branding was “compatible” with the design and I would ask fans to take this – and the pricing structure when announced – into account when “judging” the end products. With our commercial revenues continuing to be severely impacted, we really need your support!
FIRST TEAM SQUAD 2021-22
New recruits, Dale Carrick, Adam Cummins, Nathan Flanagan, Ray Grant, Marc Laird and Martin McNiff have all reported fit and well for pre-season training to join up with those players retained from last season (including Dylan Bikey who faced a particularly arduous journey to get from Nantes to Stirling!).
Welcome (back) to Stirling Albion!
THE RETURN OF SPECTATORS / SEASON TICKETS / LIVE STREAMING
With Scottish Government announcing that fans can return to stadiums, albeit in limited numbers, we are actively addressing the considerable number of challenges this will inevitably pose. The SFA are producing a “Return of Spectators” Protocol document, but this isn’t likely to be released until after the next planned “Lockdown Easing” on 7 June, when hopefully most of Scotland will be moved to Level 1. The biggest practical challenge we face is the continuing requirement to socially distance all changing facilities, including providing entirely separate accommodation for the Home, Away and Officials personnel which currently at Forthbank takes 6 of the 8 Turnstiles in the home and away stands out of use!
Sadly not much if indeed anything has progressed for the better on this front. We had hoped to get confirmation of improvements, particularly in respect of social distancing requirements, but with the latest push back of the date for moving to Level 0, we are now planning on worst case scenarios for all aspects of our plan.
As advised earlier this week, priority access will be given to Season Ticket Holders which are now on sale! A decision on our capacity to accommodate non season ticket holders will be made in due course and arrangements communicated shortly thereafter.
Sadly under the current restrictions, we will be unable to accommodate Away Supporters, but the good news is that our unrivalled SATV Live Streaming will be available to purchase; a service that is of course available to anyone who is unable to attend Forthbank for whatever reason.
Thanks for taking the time to read this update and apologies for the continuing lack of certainty on a number of issues as these uncertain times continue. If you would like to discuss any matter in more detail, please do not hesitate to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with John Daly, Supporters Liaison Director, on email@example.com