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INTERVIEW: We're still a club in a good position

Chief executive Nigel Clibbens on complex issues behind the current planning process

9 July 2020

As confirmed by director of football David Holdsworth last week, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes in preparation for the opening of the transfer window.

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Chief executive Nigel Clibbens spoke this week about the complex issues behind any plans the manager and his staff are trying to make as Covid-19 continues to impact on every day life.

“It’s incredibly difficult,” he said. “I have conversations with Chris [Beech] and David [Holdsworth] and we talk about how rules are going to change, then a week later things have moved on again.

“I think we’ve just got to remain focused on the fact that we know that eventually we will play games, and all we can continue to do is the spade work in the background. Making any long-term commitments is really risky at this point.”

“I think everything across the whole season will be condensed,” he added. “The recruitment process will be condensed because people generally aren’t getting players in at this moment in time, and all of a sudden everyone is going to need loads of players in one go.

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“There is going to be a lot of turmoil in terms of recruitment, then we’ll be straight into the season. We’ll be playing a lot of games for all the reasons we’ve talked about, but at the same time there might still be opportunities to continue to do player trading even once the season has started.

“We all know what used to happen when loans were still available and the window ran on a bit. You’d play a few games and if the manager wasn’t happy, you’d go back into the transfer market getting more players in.

“There might also be an opportunity to spend more than you might have thought, so the clubs with more money might look at it as a great opportunity to steal a march on those teams who are feeling the pain of Covid.

“You might end up with clubs who are struggling and who are really having to batten down the hatches, and those who aren’t and have been given a bit more leeway by the SCMP rules as they think along the lines of 'now is our chance.'

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“There are lots of things that might be at play, and I think you’re starting to see it with the few things that are happening now in the transfer market. There are players who have already signed a three-year deal, which they think is a great deal, but that’s another club signing up to a long-term commitment in a Covid environment, when we don’t know when we’ll have any fans in our stadiums or when we’ll be making any income.”

“At the very start I said we were a club in a good position and we’re still in that good position,” he told us. “We had a cushion from the steps we’d taken, as well as money from some transfer deals that we’ve done.

“We structured the deals so that cash would come in over a period of time, and we’re reaping the benefit of that cash coming in at the moment. That allows us to maintain that cushion and gives us leeway in the short-term. Eventually that will end, and we need to be back to earning income.

“The furlough scheme has been absolutely crucial to all of this because it’s allowed us to protect jobs and continue to pay the staff 100% of their wages, with the club putting in the 20% on top of furlough.

“We’re really proud of that and it has been the right thing to do, so we feel we’ve played our part by doing that, and we’re still in a sound position. Having said all of that, we want to get back to playing football because that’s what it’s all about.

“Ultimately, clubs are the same as any business, and we can’t survive if we’ve got no activity. We want to be back to playing and we want to see that as soon as possible.”

On Friday morning on the official website we’ll be talking with Nigel about how the club will manage this season’s transfer budget.

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

Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.

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