Government announcement came at the right time for Morecambe co-chairman

Morecambe last played at Newport County AFC on March 7Morecambe last played at Newport County AFC on March 7
Morecambe last played at Newport County AFC on March 7 | freelance
Morecambe co-chairman Rod Taylor outlined how the coronavirus pandemic left the club in limbo on and off the pitch.

Prior to League Two clubs’ verbal agreement on May 15 to end their season, the Shrimps hadn’t played a game since losing at Newport County AFC on March 7.

Of the nine matches that were left in their season, five of those were to be played at the Globe Arena with Plymouth Argyle, Stevenage, Crawley Town, Swindon Town and Scunthorpe United due to visit.

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As well as five matches’ worth of gate receipts, there is also the missing hospitality income that would have been generated – both on matchdays and for other occasions.

Taylor explained: “When the directive came from government that the leisure and hospitality industry had to shut down, it was a massive relief.

“We had Mother’s Day approaching (March 22) and people were booking, so we were wondering if we were being responsible.

“Then they said it would be closed down, so it was a relief and meant we could try to plan for the future.”

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The first step out of lockdown began this month with some fast food outlets starting up drive-through or delivery services, as well as ‘unlimited’ outdoor time and people encouraged to go back to work.

Step two is provisionally set up for no earlier than the start of June when non-essential retail shops may be able to open in phases.

A third step, no earlier than July 4, will be the gradual re-opening of industries including the hospitality sector.

As someone who also runs the Morecambe Hotel and three care homes in the area, Taylor has first-hand experience of the situation.

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Consequently, he reiterated that any final emergence from lockdown still depends on a continual drop in the number of coronavirus cases.

“If we get another spike then it won’t be July 4,” he warned.

“It could be way down the road, we won’t know until things do ease off.

“If there is another spike and no vaccine is available, we’ll have to look at it again.

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“It isn’t going to happen overnight and pubs, for example, can’t let everyone in because that would be irresponsible.”

Talk of attendances in public places turned attention to the Premier League’s initial plan to stage their remaining games at neutral venues.

That was the centrepiece of the competition’s so-called ‘Project Restart’ but drew opposition from a number of top-flight clubs.

Instead, it seems likely that teams will now play behind closed doors at their usual home ground.

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Taylor said: “Is playing on neutral grounds a fair reflection and does it keep the competition’s integrity? There’s no one answer.

“You look at Norwich as an example. Their record away from Carrow Road has been awful (one win and three draws in 15 matches) but I don’t know why people are thinking about this – we should have made a decision before now.”