Maidstone United likely they will revert to a part-time training schedule next season for financial reasons

Tuesday 26th May 2020

MAIDSTONE UNITED may have to revert to part-time status in the Vanarama National League South next season, warns co-owner Oliver Ash.

The Frenchman issued a statement on the club website today and revealed the club may have to train during the evenings as football comes to terms with the cost of the coronavirus crisis that has halted every single club’s operations both on and off the pitch.

“The sooner we can beat this thing, the sooner we can get back to doing some of the things we love doing and hey-ho, maybe getting to watch The Stones in action again before too long,” said Mr Ash.

The UK Government nor The Football Association have not yet informed non-league football clubs when they can resume playing football.

“It will depend on when Government and the League’s deem it safe,” added Mr Ash.

“When that happens we’ll see if the general football supporting public will agree with the decision by actually attending matches with crowds again.

“Subject to the virus being deemed to be ‘under control,’ whatever that actually means, there may be a decision to allow football at our level in, say, September or October.  This is just my opinion. This may also be subject to restrictions.

“There may be (crowd restrictions), again we just don’t know yet. It is conceivable there could be restrictions on a stadium-by-stadium basis, with crowds limited to say 50% of full capacity.

“All around the stadium there would have to be safety measures such as distancing markers, gel dispensers, possibly a requirement to wear masks in bars and clubhouses. All rather surreal and both complicated and expensive to organise and manage.

“if there were such restrictions put in place early and clearly enough, this may actually encourage more fans to go along.

“At our level clubs could survive by cutting costs accordingly but it would be a real strain.”

When asked about Hakan Hayrettin’s team-building plans for next season, Mr Ash revealed only five players have been retained from last season’s squad.

He said: “Hakan was talking to players before the lockdown, which put paid to last season and left many uncertainties about the next.

“We gave him our backing in March and he remains our first choice for manager next season.

“He deserves the opportunity to take charge of the team. Time and circumstances will tell what sort of contract deal we can agree in due course.

“Most player contracts came to an end on 2 May. Given the complex set of circumstances and the need to reduce financial risk going into the uncertain future, we have only retained five players to date; Ibby Akanbu, Ibrahim Olutade, Sadiou Khan, Sam Corne and Jake Embery.

“As and when we get a clearer picture of next season’s timeline, we will contact other players we would like to retain, if ultimately circumstances allow.

“When Terry (Casey) and I last met with Hakan, we made it clear we would be keen in principle to add local talent and players with links to the club, where it makes sense.

“One or two players (including one old Stones favourite), have said they would love to come back and play for the Stones. Nothing is definite, however, given how little knowledge we have of when and in what shape football might restart.”

When asked whether the club will revert to part-time status, Mr Ash replied: “No definite decision will be taken on daytime or evening training next season till we know more. However, it is very likely we will revert to a two evenings a week schedule for financial reasons, possibly adding an optional Monday morning. Time will tell.”

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