I hope you are all keeping well and are in good spirits despite the unprecedented challenges we are all facing as a result of the serious public health crisis. I am conscious that we have suffered some losses within the Linfield family in recent weeks and our thoughts and prayers are with all of those who have faced bereavement or who are battling illness in these very difficult times.
One of the really positive aspects of this current pandemic has been the hugely inspiring community response, as people have come together to look after the most vulnerable within society and ensure that no-one is left behind or isolated. I am aware that we have people from Linfield including staff and supporters who are involved in the frontline of the Covid-19 response and we salute their amazing efforts in the most challenging of circumstances. I would also commend the fantastic efforts of our Academy, Linfield supporters clubs and some individual supporters who have been engaged in community food distribution initiatives and in fundraising for our under pressure NHS.
We are all hugely missing football at this time, particularly as we enter what would traditionally be the climax of the domestic season. It is important, however, that we all continue to follow the Government’s public health guidelines to ensure that we can get back to normality at the earliest possible opportunity. We are in regular contact with the players and they are all in good condition in readiness for the resumption of the season at some point in the coming months.
The club is fully focused on completing the domestic season, in accordance with UEFA advice, and in working with the IFA and NIFL to consider the implications for the 2020/21 season. This club, along with others, has invested heavily to improve our performance and to enhance the position of the Irish league within a European context. It is imperative, therefore, that European places and the resulting revenues are awarded solely on merit and we would reject what we view as opportunistic calls for a wider distribution of European incomes this season.
All local clubs are facing significant challenges in these uncertain times with loss of expected incomes at this important time of the season. We welcome Government support to keep football and other businesses viable and I can advise that Linfield FC has placed our players and key staff on furlough leave for the immediate future. This will ensure that we can avail of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and minimise the impacts of this global crisis on our finances.
I would take this opportunity to thank all of our supporters for their continued loyalty and patience in these difficult times. You will be aware that our Annual General Meeting, normally held on the first Friday in May, has been postponed but this will hopefully be rescheduled for later in 2020. We have also had to cancel the popular end of season Gala Dinner but there are provisional plans in place to hold this in September along with a very special event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the epic European Cup Winners tie against Manchester City.
I am sure that like me you have been enjoying the historical features on the club’s website and the re-runs of key games on Linfield TV from what was a thrilling end of season finale in 2017. We are all, however, anxious to return to live football whenever it is safe to do so and we trust that this will be possible soon.
In the meantime look after yourselves, your families and your neighbours and stay safe until we are all back at our beloved Windsor Park.
In conclusion, can I ask that you show your support, if possible, for the just giving fundraising appeal which we launched this morning in support of our official partner charity, the Northern Ireland Children’s Hospice at - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/linfieldfc-nich
Audaces Fortuna Juvat