In our last update [5.15pm on Monday 16 March] we discussed a number of changes which had been put in place, for both the on and off-field staff at the club, to help us to both conform with advice from the Government and also to best protect the club, its staff and supporters through this unprecedented period of uncertainty.
Shortly after releasing the latest club update the Prime Minister gave the first of his daily briefings – a broadcast which once again highlighted the ever-changing and fast-moving nature of this pandemic, and the measures being taken to combat it.
In light of the advice given from the authorities on Monday evening, we wondered if that had changed anything further for Carlisle United Football Club.
Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “We worked on the statement which we released last night during the day and then, as we saw, the Government advice changed. I am personally very pleased to see a move from the ‘herd immunity’ strategy to outright suppression. Everyone now needs to do all they can to achieve that.
“From a staff point of view, the new advice hasn’t really changed anything. I’m pleased to say we were ahead of the game in terms of implementing work at home and social distancing policies for our staff, and last night’s announcements from the Prime Minister reinforced the thinking behind our decision to do that.
“Clearly what he said during his address to the nation is a game changer for the whole of the country in terms of what that new advice is with relation to non-essential travel and suppression, and is significantly different to what it was even a couple of days ago.
“It doesn’t change anything from what we were doing anyway with the back-office staff. We’ve spoken a number of times about how we’ve reduced hours in the shop, limited face-to-face meetings, and things like that, and we had also already reduced the numbers of staff on site to the minimum required to keep the club operational.”
“The big difference last night’s announcement has made has been to the football operation,” he added. “Chris Beech had a training plan in mind, which would have seen his squad train on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week, with similar planned going forward throughout the postponement period.
“Clearly now that can’t be the case. With all of that in mind, at 6.30pm last night we took the decision to stand the players down, with immediate effect, and they will now be given personal fitness and training programmes to work on at home until further notice. The club houses have been vacated and the players have returned to their families.
“Those training programmes have been issued and the players will be supported by David Waldie and medically through Neil Dalton and the doctor so that they can deal with any issues or concerns.
“To confirm, they will all now work away from the club until further notice so, in effect, the football side of the business has ceased to operate until such time as the advice we receive tells us that we can safely bring the squad together again.”
“This again shows how fast-moving this situation is and how we need to respond quickly to it, which we will continue to do.”
We’ll have further updates from the chief executive over the coming days, or as the situation develops or changes.