Nottingham Forest Chairman, Nicholas Randall QC, has issued the following letter to 2019-20 season card holders.
Dear season cardholder,
I hope that you, your family and friends are well. I wanted to take this opportunity to write to you on behalf of the club to send you our thoughts and best wishes at this difficult and challenging time and to update you on a number of developments at the club with respect to the completion of the 2019-20 season.
First of all I want to thank you for your patience. We have not considered it appropriate or beneficial to provide a running commentary to you all on football-related issues since the season was suspended and when all of our minds have properly been focused away from football. Not only did we consider this inappropriate but any comment would have been empty speculation. The truth of the position is that the overwhelming majority of clubs in both the Premier League and the Championship have been focused on nothing other than achieving a safe return to play and completion of the 2019-20 season.
This is by far the most appropriate way to proceed where the internal resources allow and wider society is not adversely impacted. It is also the best way to maintain the integrity of our respective competitions and the future of the professional game. Tempting though it may have been for a club such as ours in the play-off positions to pursue self-interest I can assure you that we have not done so. At all times we have taken the position as a club that the full season should be completed on the pitch if it is safe to do so. At times this has appeared in doubt but significant progress has been made in the last few weeks and days. As a result we have edged towards that goal and now appear close to achieving it with a proposed restart date of Saturday 20th June.
It is a desperate blow that the terms of the restart will not permit supporters to attend the matches in-person. I am sure that this comes as unwelcome news to you. I can assure you that the disappointment is shared by all of us at the club including Sabri and the players.
Football is not the same without fans. As I write to you at this time I have had the honour of being the Chairman of your club for three years. From the moment we took over under the ownership of Mr Marinakis your support has been nothing short of incredible. You have backed the team not just in The City Ground and the away stadia throughout the land but across our society to an extent we could never have imagined. You have maintained your support during the difficult times on this journey. Even during the height of this dreadful pandemic you have been buying your season cards for the 2020-2021 campaign. We could never have asked for more.
I want you to know that your support has been an inspiration to everyone at the club. It will drive us all on over these next few weeks as we seek to achieve the target of promotion and to put your club back where it belongs in the top tier of English football. I am sure that it is of no surprise to you for me to report that Sabri, his staff and the players have reacted to the crisis with strength of character and professionalism. With our full support they have taken the first cautious steps back into training with confidence and commitment. We are as sure as we can be that the protocols and regimes in place provide a safe place of work for them. I will never ask them to take a risk that I would not be prepared to take myself. I know that my view is shared by the other members of the club’s Board. We now face the final stages of the season with spirit, commitment and desire and with the end sight of promotion in view. I promise you that everyone at the club will give their all.
As I have mentioned above, a sad consequence of Covid-19 is that we will have to play out the season behind closed doors. This obviously has an impact on all season card holders as it means you will not be able to attend the remaining fixtures of the season. We will, of course, be offering a pro-rata refund to those season card holders who want this. However, if you are in the position to consider one of our alternative options, I urge you to please do so. The economic impact on the club of any refund is substantial. The sum in issue is in excess of £1million.
I will be open and direct with you and say that it is vital for the club that as much of these funds as possible are retained. We still live under the regime of FFP which means that the levels of investment an owner can make are in proportion to the income generated by the club and, as you know, we do not have the advantage of significant parachute payments. As you are also aware we are striving to achieve promotion in the next few weeks but it is crucial that we maintain the club’s upwards trajectory even if we fall short this season. We need to keep our momentum and to maintain our club on its upward path.
It goes without saying that every time a supporter selects an alternative option to a refund the position of the club is strengthened. Every amount retained will continue to be invested in your club.
Our commercial department have worked hard on the alternative options with the aim of producing options which offer significant value for you. The precise terms of the offers we make are set out in this website article. With respect to our younger season card holders, where the economic value of the lost matches is smaller, we will offer megastore vouchers which are worth significantly more than the pro-rata value of the season card.
I now turn to the position for adult and senior season card holders. We are fortunate that in the recent past the EFL has invested in digital streaming services and we now have a capacity to provide an opportunity for supporters to watch our matches live along with other relevant benefits. We understand from the communication with our fans’ representatives that this is the desired choice for the big majority of our fans as is the only way to watch all of our remaining fixtures of the season both home and away. Alternatively, we are also able to offer you a commercial option that includes free match tickets and other commercial benefits.
After consultation with fan representatives we have also decided to give you the option to donate to the Academy.
I can assure you that if the club is promoted this season, the landscape will obviously be very different and we will be in a position to provide yet further benefits to all supporters who have taken up these alternative options as a gesture of our appreciation for your support.
I would like to end by thanking you once again for your patience. I also want to promise you that we will be doing all that we can within the EFL and the wider community to press for the return of fans to live football to be a priority and that, so long as it is safe, you will be able to watch your team again at the earliest possible opportunity. Please stay safe and we hope to welcome you back to The City Ground sooner rather than later.