As the Covid-19 vaccination programme motors on at an encouraging pace, thoughts are now turning to an easing of the lockdown, with an update to come this week from the Prime Minister.
What that will mean for the return of fans to football stadiums is unclear, but we can confirm that we’ll be ready, with the lessons learned pre-Christmas still fresh in the memory.
And looking slightly longer-term, chief executive Nigel Clibbens has also confirmed that changes are planned for the future of catering at the club.
“The failure to complete the 19/20 football season and the lock out of fans again this season has put huge pressure on commercial deals,” he said. “Catering and hospitality have been devastated, as we all know, and that’s not just in football.
“But, looking directly at us, all meaningful activity of this kind in the stadium has ceased for coming up to nearly a year already. There remains huge uncertainty about the short-term future and it’s been clear for some time that a return to in-stadium catering is still some way off.
“In the autumn we commenced discussions with abm Catering about the issues we faced and the outlook for that side of the business. We eventually reached a mutual agreement to end our catering contract early.
“As a result of the impacts of coronavirus, the lock out of fans and the business ceasing to be viable, all parties agreed this was the best way forward in what have been extraordinary circumstances. We thank abm Catering and their staff for the service they have given us, and we wish them well.”
“Of course, we now have to look forward and be ready for the eventual return of in-stadium catering and hospitality services, both on match days and through the week,” he continued. “The club has now started the process of considering and reviewing catering options available for the 2021/22 season and beyond.
“We want everything to be in place and functional as soon as we are able to return to the delivery of our popular hospitality packages. In the past, the club has operated in-house catering, but in more recent years it has chosen to look to external providers for catering and hospitality services.
“All alternatives are now back on the table. We will engage with fans to get their views via CUOSC and CUSG.
“With the turmoil we have seen in the hospitality sector, we believe that we will some new approaches emerge, as well as there still being the option of the more traditional approach.
“We will welcome and consider all proposals, including any new ideas or those from established providers. We will also look in detail at the viability and business case to bring catering and hospitality in-house.
“We are open-minded, and with us having ended the existing deal early, coupled with the current lockdown restrictions, it means we have time to review all options and decide the best way forward.”
Any company or provider who wishes to express an interest in working with us should initially contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will take it from there.
We will provide an update on future hospitality and catering provision in due course.