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2019/20 Season News

Update – A View from ‘Virtual’ Central Park

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Update – A View from ‘Virtual’ Central Park

Posted April 7, 2020


The stands are empty, the wind blows to no effect, referees are spared an earful from Hookie and the vociferous few, coloured cards are not being flourished, the ballboys aren’t strolling towards an errant ball whilst the opposition bench rages, there are no punch-ups in the tunnel, the Chairman’s blood pressure is no longer spiking, the seagulls have moved on, the turnstiles have been stilled – the main activity is the grass growing. Central Park is in lockdown.

It’s just a few short weeks but it seems a lifetime since we were on that bus up and down the road to Elgin little suspecting that our push towards securing a play off place would soon be back-burnered. The world was about to change for us all.

Cowdenbeath FC though is far from dormant. There has been a hive of activity at a ‘virtual’ Central Park. New ways of working have been adopted to tackle so many unexpected challenges. Some directors have even had to get to grips with the 21st century with What’s App and Zoom now in almost daily use. The Club also has two employees still engaged – the groundsman tending the pitch as necessary and the office manager busy working from home.

The players and management team are now on Furlough Leave. This was agreed in Zoom conference conversations with the manager and the players (represented by the captain and three of our senior pros). We were all able to work together to deliver what seems to be the best overall solution in this time of strife. The general sense of harmony in these discussions reflected the strong team spirit and morale at the club.

The Furlough period is backdated to when football in Scotland was suspended on 13 March. Furloughing potentially allows the club access to the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. Those on furlough undertake no work (including any playing or training) and the scheme provides a wage subsidy of 80% of normal earnings up until 31 May 2020. The club paid normal wages at the 100% level for the full month of March and will fund the future monthly payments at 80% pending reimbursement from the Government.

Thus, following an intense period of activity, we maybe have just a little bit of stability but there remains a good deal of uncertainty as to what the future holds. There are still financial challenges ahead. A bumpy road lies in front of us and effects are likely to be long lasting, well beyond the time that this current health crisis persists. Our most grateful thanks go out to all our people - players, management team, and staff - for the manner in which they have cooperated and contributed to aid the club in these difficult days.

On the football front, we have been in continuous dialogue with many of our fellow SPFL clubs, in particular those in League 2. This has been a real boon as rivalry is set aside for the time being. There is also regular communication from the football authorities including Video Conference calls with the SFA/SPFL. The next of these takes place on Wednesday. Our own view is that season 2019/20 is unlikely to resume and thus we believe it should be called now on an as its stands basis. There are of course a range of views including those of UEFA. The benefit of calling the season now is that it offers a degree of clarity as opposed to continuing uncertainty. It will hopefully unlock distribution of SPFL positional based fees for season 2019/20, allows us to more clearly plot our cashflow position for the coming months, lets clubs turn their attention to player contracts (which in our case mostly expire early in June), gives certainty that we will not be called back into action at short notice, and clubs know which League they will be in next season – whenever football does eventually resume.

Finally, a grocer’s daughter once controversially said ‘there is no such thing as society’. Many would beg to disagree. What we are 100% certain of though is that there is such a thing as community. This Coronavirus crisis has proven that and we have been both touched and humbled by how the Cowdenbeath community has been willing to assist our club in these times of trouble. That community embraces not just the town but the whole Cowdengelly area as well as folks all around Fife, Scotland, the UK and further afield. The support via donations and contributions in so many other ways has helped to boost our spirits and sustain us all at virtual Central Park and is truly appreciated. Cowdenbeath FC has been at the heart of its community for 140 years – there is no Cowdenbeath FC without that community.

Thank you all. Take care and Keep Safe.

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