We need further guidance from The FA and National League before we can move forward properly, says Bromley boss Neil Smith

Saturday 04th April 2020

BROMLEY manager Neil Smith has issued the following statement:


“Planning ahead is very difficult at this time with the reports that are coming back from the National League that it’s suspended indefinitely.

You can’t plan ahead – there’s no end date for this. We just don’t know how long this current situation will last.

I obviously can’t have the players training together at the moment, so they’re having to go home and keep themselves in shape just in case we can play on in this season.

I personally don’t think we can, it’s a very difficult situation with contracts coming to an end, so whatever happens now is up to The FA and National League to come to a compromise for all clubs.

The likelihood is there’s not going to be an answer which works for everyone; some Clubs will be happy, some disappointed.

I think The FA and National League need to make a decision soon so we can put this season to bed and prepare as best we can for next season, currently not knowing when we’ll next play or even be able to train together.

There are difficult decisions to be made, but in terms of planning and training, we’re waiting to find out whether the lockdown will be eased or stepped up again. So the players have to keep themselves fit and make sure they’re in shape, ready for whatever happens.

It’s been really difficult, but the reality is this is football. It’s a fantastic job to be in and I’m privileged to be the manager of this Club, and I love every minute I spend there. It’s so close to where I am but I can’t go there. I love the environment around the Club and those who work there and you start to miss that daily interaction.

I miss my coaching staff too, we speak on the phone every day and video call each other too. That said, it’s not the same as being in there with them and the players too, experiencing that banter and then getting out on the training pitch, putting things into practice, watching players grow and develop.

I miss the buzz of the Saturday afternoons and the supporters getting behind us, I think we can all agree we miss that.

There is a bigger underlying reason for this though, we know the fight each and every one of us has on our hands right now.

We need to make sure we listen to the Government advice and stay indoors and keep the social distancing. We all love the environment of Bromley Football Club; it’s a passion. At the same time, we love our family and friends, and now is a time when we need to look out for them and make sure we don’t do anything which could harm others or ourselves.

I can’t wait to get back into the footballing environment and begin to experience some sort of normality. When that happens it’ll mean we’re beating this virus and getting back on our feet, so the sooner that happens, the better.

The Club has been amazing in terms of what it’s done for the community. Before the lockdown, we were able to deliver food and supplies to those who needed them, as well as donate to food banks.

We spoke to all of our Senior Season ticket holders and made sure they were ok.

It’s humbling to see the impact of what we’ve been doing. We’ve all made sure we’re around and available to assist people in any way we can and that’s been amazing.

All the staff at the Club have all been working hard to help people and show just what we’re about. It shows how we want to be the hub of our local community.

Like I’ve said in previous messages, we’ve needed the supporters this year, especially in the past couple of months when things were more difficult and we didn’t have much good luck and they’ve stuck with us in their numbers. It’s only right we show our support to them now and get through this together, making us all even more united than we were before.

It’s hard to start thinking about next season when we don’t know whether this season is finished yet. The quicker the decision is made and what it will mean for everyone, the sooner we can move on to preparing for what comes next.

Until that happens and the virus is dealt with, it’s hard to prepare. We don’t know when we’ll be back training or playing, whether there will be a knock-on effect on next season and so on.

In that sense, it’s very hard to prepare even for pre-season fixtures, how Clubs are going to respond, what players will be available, what budgets will be like.

It’s hard at the moment with no income in terms of gate receipts, sponsorships and so on. Many sponsors have been incredibly loyal to us during this time and previously, so we want to show our appreciation and loyalty back to them, they are very important to us.

Many of them are facing the same difficulties that Football Clubs are, so we know what they’re going through. We’re in it together. In terms of players and what’s out there, there will be some who are out of contract and with the situation Clubs are in, those numbers could be higher than normal.

We need to do what we can and be as proactive as possible, but at the same time, we need further guidance from The FA and National League before we can move forward properly.

I’d like to thank the Chairman Robin Stanton-Gleaves and board members Jerry Dolke, Jon Plassard and David Waller for their magnificent gesture (of paying everybody their full salary until the end of May).

As the manager, I couldn’t have asked for any more support in the past few months and in this period as well.

The players, who I’ve spoken to individually about this, are blown away and humbled by what the board have done for them.

Some of them are contracted until the end of April, others have deals for next season. In these troubling times, they’re all being looked after which is amazing.

As manager of the Club, I have an interest in the staff, from my backroom team to the office, bar, catering and ground staff. We are in it together and what the Chairman and the board have done here shows the loyalty that exists at Bromley Football Club, and this is something many other clubs haven’t done.

The board are trying to do the best by everyone at the Club and ensure we’re in a strong position to hit the ground running on all fronts when we’re back to normal. We’d all like to thank the Board of Directors for what is a fantastic and very much appreciated gesture.

Stay safe, do what the Government recommend and make sure you stay at home. I know it’s hard when there’s family you want to see, but we’re all looking out for each other and we need to follow the advice. Bromley FC is a hub for families, we see parents, grandparents, children, siblings, partners, all sorts of people coming to support us.

For me, I love seeing my brothers at home games, and it’s hard not being able to see them at the moment. So, we do understand how you feel and we all need to battle this together.

I’d like to thank our amazing NHS staff, postal staff, delivery drivers, shop workers, all of whom are working non-stop at the moment to make life easier for us in these difficult times. Many of them will be overwhelmed at the moment with so much responsibility and we need to support and appreciate them.

It’s a horrible virus with how it’s affected so many people, so we all need to do our little bit to support the NHS. Once we get back to normality, at Bromley Football Club we want to show our support for these amazing and vital people in whatever way we can.

In the meantime, supporters and sponsors, stay safe. We feel your pain, but we’re all with you at this time. We can’t wait to see you at Hayes Lane when we next play.”

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