Morecambe co-chairman labels the coronavirus pandemic as ‘unchartered territory’

Morecambe co-chairman Rod Taylor believes clubs across the country will be experiencing a number of problems as a result of football’s shutdown.

By Gavin Browne
Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 11:45 am
Derek Adams and Rod Taylor are among the Morecambe staff trying to plot a course through the coronavirus crisis
Derek Adams and Rod Taylor are among the Morecambe staff trying to plot a course through the coronavirus crisis

The global coronavirus pandemic has seen Premier League and EFL matches suspended until April 3 at the earliest.

In Morecambe’s case, that meant the postponement of matches at Forest Green Rovers and Leyton Orient, as well as last Saturday’s home meeting with Plymouth Argyle and the scheduled visit of Stevenage this weekend.

Initially, the plan had been to play the Plymouth game behind closed doors.

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The situation then accelerated once it emerged that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had both tested positive for the virus.

The decision to suspend games has led to speculation regarding what to do with the season; suspend it temporarily or declare it null and void altogether.

“You’ve got to be guided by the authorities,” Taylor said when asked if the decision to suspend matches was the right one.

“I don’t know if there is a right or wrong answer, it’s very difficult to get to grips with it.

“It’s an absolute mess and there’s also the timescale to think about – if you’re in this situation for the next three months, how do you conclude the season?

“It’s really difficult for the clubs at both ends of the table and the financial implications could be catastrophic in the worst case scenarios.

“There will be many dozens of clubs through the Championship, League One, League Two, National League and beyond who will be in this situation.”

In terms of those financial issues, matchday funds are vital to a club of the Shrimps’ stature.

Hospitality bookings and use of function rooms are key revenue streams – not to mention the centenary concerts planned for the Globe Arena in mid-June.

They may be under threat given the proposed ban on so-called ‘mass gatherings’ of people.

Taylor acknowledged: “It’s not like we have lots of reserves – we haven’t and that’s no secret.

“What we’ve got to do is roll with the punches and plot our way through it.

“We had a meeting last Friday with heads of department for our strategy going forward.

“As information comes from the government and the authorities, we will get together again and we do have another meeting scheduled.”

Financial implications of the coronavirus are also accompanied by the sporting consequences.

Although the April 4 game against Crawley Town is the next scheduled match, it wouldn’t be a surprise if that was also postponed.

That, nevertheless, is still the date to which everyone is working at present with Derek Adams’ players due back in training this week after a few days off, though it’s understood nobody has been in isolation.

However, are the Shrimps expected to hit the ground running or will there be scope for private friendlies?

Should football be postponed until a date later in the year, what happens with those players whose contracts are due to expire at the end of June?

The Shrimps also use an external facility in the shape of Lancaster University as their training base which, as Taylor recognised, may present another hypothetical problem.

“There’s the issue of keeping players fit if they are having time off,” he said.

“You can’t just come back and start playing again.

“At the moment, we’re all right with our training facilities but what happens if the uni goes into lockdown?

“There’s a myriad of other things you go over in your head and there are no easy answers.

“Sometimes you’re conflicted in that you think one answer’s right and then you come up with something else that’s the opposite of that.

“We really are in uncharted territory with this situation.”