As we welcome today’s visitors King’s Lynn Town FC for the magical First Round of the FA Cup, we again unfortunately find ourselves in a lockdown situation in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic and without supporters inside Vale Park.
Let me first say that the safety of our players, staff, supporters and visitors will always be paramount for Port Vale and we will, of course, continue to abide by the rules and restrictions set down by the Government and the EFL.
But the reality is that loss of match day revenue and a moratorium on hospitality and events for months on end has a hugely detrimental effect on clubs such as Port Vale who do not receive significant TV monies enjoyed by clubs in the Premier League and Championship.
On that note I would like to reiterate just how important your support is to us at this time – whether you have purchased a Season Ticket, iFollow match pass or merchandise from the club shop (or, indeed, all three). This revenue is vital to your club at this time.
Myself and everyone at the club share your frustration that supporters who have paid money to watch their teams live have not yet been allowed into stadiums, wearing face-coverings and in socially-distanced bubbles (as we had been planning for).
Despite asking the question and writing to the Sports Minister, I have yet to receive an explanation as to why outdoor spectating at sports venues is considered more of a risk than, say, visiting a cinema or theatre or going on an aeroplane.
I have been one of the most vocal proponents of having fans back since the Prime Minister paused the return of supporters to sporting stadia at the beginning of October – speaking extensively to the local and national media on your behalf.
At the club we have also been working with Stoke-on-Trent North MP Jonathan Gullis who will, on Monday, lead a debate in Parliament on this issue after more than 200,000 people signed a petition calling for a change in the Government’s position.
Port Vale will continue to champion you, the fans – the lifeblood of our club – at every opportunity. Whether that is pushing for a return to stadia for supporters or taking up streaming problems for you with the EFL iFollow team.
We miss you terribly. It’s just not the same – home or away – without you. Just knowing that you’re with us, watching at home with your family and friends, means the world.
We will get through this. Keep the faith. UTV!