We were not in favour, albeit we weren’t even asked by the League. We are sitting in a play-off position and had worked so hard on and off-the-field to get into that position and for that to just be taken away is so disheartening, says Herne Bay chairman

Friday 27th March 2020

HERNE BAY chairman Stuart Fitchie says he wants The Football Association to talk to non-league clubs about their decision to null and void the 2019-20 football season.


Manager Ben Smith has turned around the clubs fortunes on the pitch as the club were sitting in the top-five in the Isthmian League South East Division table before the season was suspended, before The Football Association declared the season null and void and results expunged yesterday.

Fitchie, along with Smith, are in their first season in charge at Winch’s Field and when asked about the FA’s decision yesterday, Fitchie said: “Completely unfair and a decision that is just utterly stupid and nonsensical!

“There is no offering to the clubs, just a generic email.  If we were given the opportunity to receive something back, which was relative to the club, league, position, expenses paid out, that would soften the blow – but a generic email feels like a divide in classes and just being spat at in the face!

“We were not in favour, albeit we weren’t even asked by the League.  We are sitting in a play-off position and had worked so hard on and off-the-field to get into that position.

“For that to just be taken away is so disheartening and I feel for all the people involved in the club and the fans.  They were finally seeing some positive results on the pitch after some bad times.

“I believe the impact this is having now could’ve been spread over a few seasons and the overall effect would’ve not been so drastic, which I think it now will be.

“Also, the reason we got for the League wanting to conclude the season was because of players' contracts. 

“Why couldn’t the players' contracts, along with every other persons work in this country, be put on hold and start-up again when the football did?

“At the end of the day, they weren’t going to lose out as they would be getting payments after they usually would’ve anyway.”

Herne Bay issued a club statement on 30 March 2019 stating at the time “whether there will be a club next season is unclear.”

But Fitchie and his colleagues have come in to save the club and turned around fortunes in a very short space of time.

“By no means we are flush with money. We are stable and have been since we came in,” said Fitchie.

“We inherited some old debt, which we restructured and have some agreements from old we accepted and have been paying.

“What these times are going to mean for the forthcoming season, who knows?

“Sponsorships for clubs at our level is really important. With most business operations on hold, we won’t know the true damage this has caused until we have a clearer idea when this is going to be over.”

Fitchie has been able to spend some more precious family time during the Coronavirus outbreak.

“I am able to work remotely and my home set-up is pretty good so work is on the whole unaffected.

“I have an eight-month boy so actually being able to spend more time with him compared to the usual 20 minutes before he goes to bed.

“Not being able to go to the gym in the mornings has mucked up the usual routine but I take my bike out every morning so it’s not too bad.

“I have a fiancé who has stepped up into the role of all-day chef in the house for which I am eternally thankful.

“Overall, we are all good and using this as an opportunity to plan as best we can for the next season.”

Fitchie, meanwhile, has this message to The Isthmian League and The Football Association.

“The League and The FA should liaise with the clubs chairpersons more. The experience and knowledge of the Chairpersons I have spoken with over the last season has been seriously impressive.

“Why can’t we be asked for our opinion and it actually be taken on board? At the end of the day we are the bottom line and it’s our people who ultimately suffer.”

Visit Herne Bay’s website:  www.pitchero.com/clubs/hernebay