Firstly, on behalf of the Club Board, I extend best wishes to everyone within the Stirling Albion family and those across the Stirling and surrounding communities who have reached out in support of the Club and our wider fund-raising efforts. We have been humbled by the amounts raised and the gratitude expressed by those that have benefited, including Start Up Stirling, Strathcarron Hospice and The Gambinos.
The Club will be issuing regular updates, over the coming weeks, on a range of matters central to the wellbeing of the Club but it would be remiss not to “kick off” with our core business priority of getting competitive first-team football back up and running…
Scotland’s progress towards the “new normal” is becoming more encouraging as each week passes and understandably this has given rise to an increased confidence that football can return.
Although still to be formally ratified, I am confident that our SPFL2 programme will commence mid-October, with the Betfred Cup a likely prelude, kicking off at the beginning of the month. This being the case, pre-season training will start at the beginning of September.
I understand the growing frustration that the return of professional football below the Premiership is being delayed until October but – and it is a big BUT! – the challenges facing part time Clubs in particular remain considerable under current legislation. It would be foolhardy in the extreme to aim for an earlier start, only to find that one or more of the hurdles to overcome have become high jumps!
The cliché “there are more questions than answers” is never more appropriate as we await clarity on where things will have progressed to in respect of a number of key impacting factors. Will Coronavirus testing remain a requirement? Will we be playing behind closed doors or will we see a relaxation of legislation that will allow supporters to return under strict social distancing conditions? And perhaps the biggest and potentially most damaging unknown… will a second wave of the virus be avoided?
We are in dialogue with Active Stirling regarding Forthbank Stadium which, aside from the pitch maintenance being carried out by Graeme Glen, remains under lockdown. The challenge of creating and maintaining a bio-secure environment, with or without spectators, is considerable and we haven’t closed our mind to the possibility of playing at a hub venue, particularly if legislation dictates matches will initially be played behind closed doors and the sharing of costs, with no incoming revenue, makes commercial sense. In the (hopefully unlikely) event this scenario unfolds, please be assured that every sinew will be strained by your Board to play at Forthbank as soon as the green light for spectators to attend is given.
With regards to recruitment, both of players and backroom staff, the Club Board is delighted with the progress made to date. Kevin has our full support, including financial, in completing the task and yes, he is acutely conscious of the area requiring attention! The concentration will remain on adding quality, not quantity, as amply evidenced by the new additions so far and at least in the short term, patience is likely to be the name of the game.
As ever, the Club Board is ready and willing to answer any questions you may have on this or any matter relevant to Stirling Albion. With our office telephone still under lockdown, please email us in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org with a contact number and the nature of your enquiry and someone will get back to you without delay.