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CHIEF EXEC: Our commercial partners have been really supportive

Nigel Clibbens on more patience being shown

30 July 2020

With what appeared to be a potentially disastrous situation facing the club back in March, we wondered if there had ever been a time when the board of directors had wondered how the club was going to cope.

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“Not to be blasé, but there was never really a point where we sat down as a board and worried about how we were going to deal with this situation,” he said. “We knew from the transfer deals we did during the summer and January that we’d be ok in the short-term, even without gate money.

“The difficulty was always going to be when the usual close season ends and you get back to normal trading. We were planning to have little income for three months, because that’s what normally happens, but you don’t want to have to take it on much further than that.

“For the clubs who have lots of match day income, not only are they faced with losing that income, they may have already used their season ticket money up earlier on. For a lot of clubs in the league, as everybody knows, they rely on shareholder funding.

“The close season is the time when those shareholders generally have to put large amounts of money in anyway, but if you’re an owner and your own business that helps fund your football club has been through difficulties because of Covid, it makes it very difficult for you to get money out of that business and put it into a football club as you usually might do.”

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Another positive for the club is that despite the enforced delay to sales of season tickets and the new kit launch, the knowledge is there that both areas of the business will catch up, as has been demonstrated by excellent sales levels for the launch of the new home and away strips.  

“In terms of cash, we’ve had a temporary delay on what we’d normally get in season ticket and retail income because we’ve been closed down,” he told us. “As it’s happened, we haven’t needed that cash, so when we are able to start selling season tickets we’ll find that money we would have already spent in a normal year will start coming into us.

“The added benefit is that it will be coming in during the new season, when we’ll need it, rather than in the close season like it usually would. We’re fortunate in that way. The other clubs who have already sold their season tickets, and who have had the cash in from April time, don’t have that cash coming in during the next few months, as we will.”

On how the club is dealing with its commercial sponsors and partners, he said: “The commercial side of things has been handled in the same way as the season tickets.

“We’ve obviously got lots of partners and sponsors who have paid up front for a whole season of sponsorship and who have missed out on four games,” he said. “They’ve been given the same options as season ticket holders in terms of what they’d like to do with the refund money they were entitled to.

“The commercial team was furloughed throughout the whole period, but as with the other staff, they’ve returned part-time in July as the furlough rules changed. They’ve been contacting the commercial supporters since then, and they’ve also been really supportive.

“Everybody knows how tough it’s been for all businesses, but they’ve taken the same approach as the fans have. That sort of thing makes what we do as staff worthwhile. When people have needed to stand up and be counted for the club, they have, and it shows you what the club is made of. That isn’t about the people in the building, it’s about the people in the city.”

Click HERE to watch an interview with Nigel Clibbens on iFollow United now.

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