THE CHALLENGE of continuing the momentum surrounding Redditch United is one that chairman David Faulkner is relishing when football returns to the Trico Stadium.
While the findings of a Football Association survey distributed to all clubs between Step Three and Six to decide the outcome of the 2020/21 season are still being processed, the Reds expect to learn the outlook for the near future later this month.
Some positive news in the form of funding for clubs at Step Three and below has at least provided more positivity for the future, with a club at Redditch’s level potentially earning up to £27,000 in grants.
The £10m fund has been met with a sense of great relief in boardrooms around the country – with the same being said in the case of Faulkner.
“It’s a huge lifeline,” he said.
“It’s been a stressful time not having the whole place open for such a long period.
“[The funding] was intimated originally in September or October time and this is the first time that we’ve had any concrete information about it.
“We’ve been hoping for it but, now we’ve been told that it’s going to arrive, it just helps us with what we’re trying to do [at the club].
“If you look at planning the business before the 3G pitch was down, you’re probably not expecting to have much football [for bookings] in January anyway.
“Our pitch the way it was previously, then known as The Valley, didn’t cope very well with the rain beforehand.
“But now we’re not just missing out on a couple of games a week, we’re missing out on a seven days a week operation.
“Fixed costs are fixed and our fixed costs are more than most.”
Understandably, perhaps, several conditions are set to apply to the grants given to clubs, with the intention of contributing only towards necessary expenditure.
“As ever, the list is long form in terms of the things that we can and can’t do. The fund itself says there is up to £27,000 for a club at our level which sounds amazing,” Faulkner continued.
“But straight away I think £27,000 potentially won’t be as much as we’ll be able to claim, so we may not end up with as much money as it may appear.
“Nevertheless, it’ll be vitally important to make sure that we can keep our facility in top condition and hopefully have people back as soon as we can.”
Based on the club’s actions throughout the turbulent current campaign, there is plenty to suggest those with the best interests of Redditch at heart are making moves for the long-term to ensure success on and off the pitch.
For the Reds chairman, there is plenty to be proud about – regardless of the prospect of a second successive voided season – and a great deal of motivation to drive United forward in more normal times.
“The club have been very successful in the period that we were allowed to play [this season],” added Faulkner.
“Our gates have considerably gone up and we’re looking at a 150 per cent increase in people attending than we had last season. We’ve doubled our junior section, we’ve increased our full-time education programme and commercial activity has gone very well.
“To have the handbrake put on that [is difficult], the main worry is that we had such momentum as a club with the first team doing well, the concern for us is making sure that this pause does not bring a halt to the progress that we’ve made.
“A lot of the options [for deciding the season] revolve around us potentially coming back in March and what we’d do. They’ve already cancelled the games up to and including March 6, which obviously doesn’t give you a huge amount of time [to finish the campaign].
“Then you’re looking into April and May to get the season completed in it’s entirety, which is impossible.
“If the (last) season was null and voided with 80 per cent of games played, surely the same will happen with 80 per cent of games still to play.
“We’re very open to all of the options that are on the table. It’d be fantastic to get back playing and get momentum going again.
“But you’ve got to look at the logistics, time is running out and, with so little of the season played, it makes more sense to end it this year than last.
“We’re looking ahead to next season, but I’m confident that with vaccines we’ll have an uninterrupted campaign.”