Having hosted 1,000 fans successfully just last weekend, United boss Chris Beech gave his reaction today to the news that major sporting could be without spectators for up to six months as the country looks to deal with a second coronavirus spike.
“Firstly, I have to say that last weekend was a great success here and everybody should take great credit,” he said. “Unfortunately we can’t control the virus, so we just have to do our bit within it. We did it very well as a football club, on and off the pitch.
“In terms of the future, it’s going to be tough. I think a lot of chairman and clubs were organised to have some sort of revenue and income from that point, so it will affect football. I know we’ve done really well in terms of trying to look at the club from a financial point of view in this strange time, but other clubs will be in different positions.
“I just hope the footballing world can somehow come through it. Today, watching the news about the furlough changing to top-up type situations and interest-free loans, and different things the government will have to try and do now, it’s bound to be difficult, so we just have to wait and see.
“Meanwhile all we can do is concentrate on training well and getting ready to play Scunthorpe.”
With the transfer window open for another three weeks, we wondered if the prospect of no income from fans attending games would make any changes to the approach on recruitment.
“I work and speak regularly to David [Holdsworth], and we are always looking for different opportunities,” he explained. “We’ve done very well in the summer to recruit the character and attitude of player that represents our community very well.
“We need to be mindful of that, and within that we have to have potential growth in investment. You want to try and take players that you possibly might be able to sell in a year or two when they’ve done excellently, after we’ve got great things out of them.
“You can take a couple of experienced players to support that and Dean Furman’s a great choice in that. Of course, in terms of the future of recruitment, it will probably be from injuries, and we’ve got until October 15 now to see what happens amongst this group of lads we’ve got together.
“There’s nothing imminent necessarily for Saturday, but you never know. These things can sometimes come out of nowhere. I could leave this interview, get a call, and it’s the right attitude and character of a player at the right age and ambition, who wants to work hard, run hard, and that changes your outlook. You’re always looking to bring player in who will make you stronger.”
And on the implications to the wider game, he told us: “I saw the Dagenham & Redbridge chief executive on TV the other day and it’s very concerning. But it is for everybody in all working life because we do all have mortgages and bills.
“Of course, what people forget is the people that own football clubs have business that have been punched hard. It is a great concern. It just is what it is. I have no control over it. We can only control what we do here as to the best of our abilities to keep people safe, train hard and get ready to play.
“We know within all of this, football’s very important for how we feel, optimism, what we look towards. If you spoke to any of the thousand spectators from Saturday, they will have been absolutely buzzing to put that new kit on, irrelevant of the game itself.
“There’ll be some clubs in better positions than us, just due to general wealth, and a lot of clubs in a far worse position than us. If you compare Carlisle to Salford, say, I don’t even think they went into furlough, they continued to pay everybody.
“It is a concern, but there are bigger things. It’s Thursday now and I’m sat here talking to you, thinking about my shape, Scunthorpe’s qualities, how we’re going to set up, break it down, get something out of that game, how can we grow something into three points.
“That’s where I am and where I have to be. If you lose concentration at that point you can almost come off track. We have to concentrate on the game and be thankful we can play it. It’s the great game of ours that we’ve got to look to protect.
“Within that we have a responsibility as players, people, coaches to try and do the right things at the right time and try our best to make sure we’re good to go. That’s all we can do.”
“Like I say, the Dagenham chief exec was very clear in that he felt football needed a bail out,” he continued. “I just don’t know enough of everybody’s finances around the footballing world to be able to comment further.
“I do know that ours has been tight, and our budget has been used to the best of our ability to look after the club, and we made those decisions and tried to recruit from that point. It’s no good trying to buy a Mercedes you can’t afford.
“I remember being asked about players like Ian Henderson and Callum Camps, very good players but just too much money for us. If clubs have stretched themselves it might come back to put them in some sort of jeopardy, I just don’t know.
“The virus numbers are going up so we’ve got to do something. How we do it - there’s big arguments over that and about what should be open, what shouldn’t be open, what’s outside and what’s inside … and it seems that the contagious element to the virus is in houses.
“It spreads more when you’re inside and closed up together. All I can say is that our experiment on Saturday was excellent and it’s hard to say why can’t we do that again, and even extend the numbers more. It’s really disappointing but we’ve got to do the right things by the guidance we’re given.
“It’s strange that Working will have fans at their game, of course it is. If anyone does go, tell them to let me know how it goes because they’re playing Kendal, and we’ve got players out on loan there, so get me a scout report by all means.
“I’m sure Mark Birch will be there watching as well, after the youth game. That is really strange, but it’s like anything, we’re higher up the pyramid and as you go up, you’re under more governance and you have to do the right things the right way. I’m sure Workington have policies and procedures to follow but they’ll be less stringent than ours. It’s just what it is.”