Chairman's New Year Message
2020 has been arguably the most difficult year in the club's post-war history. Tough decisions have had to be made during the year, even before the onset of the pandemic.
However, as we enter 2021, I believe the club is in a stronger and healthier position, thanks to the combined efforts of everyone around the club, including our sponsors and fans who have rallied round at this most difficult of times. While there is no room for complacency, the club is safer than it was twelve or even sixth months ago.
Little did we know back on 7th March - when we picked up our third consecutive victory in a game against Dumbarton at Broadwood - that the club, and the country, would be plunged into turmoil caused by a pandemic that is still very much with us all. Following that seventh place finish, there was confusion about when and in what division clubs would find themselves playing in when football resumed. This caused turmoil off the pitch and impacted greatly on our preparations for the 2020-21 campaign.
Uncertainty was the common denominator as to what lay ahead and, following two consecutive years of substantial losses totalling £160,000, we started from a position of weakness. That is a lesson we must learn from. It does not signal a lack of ambition but it does mean setting achievable targets that avoid putting the club at risk. The income received from the Celtic match in February, saved our season financially.
However, the remarkable donations from Clyde supporters in April, the welcome support from James Anderson and, in time, the introduction of the Government's Job Retention Scheme (providing 80% of player salaries up to a certain level) allowed the club to function in the absence of any trading income over that seven month period to October - literally all a lifesaver at that time.
Difficult decisions had to be made in May with the player budget for 2020-21 but that initial austerity, coupled with a review of internal structure and processes, has brought us to a better place. We can't be complacent and that is why our strategic plan and internal reviews were and are necessary. We could be fooled into believing that one-off benefits such as furlough, the James Anderson support and the recent Government grants have transformed our income streams. These are short term support measures designed to alleviate the loss of normal income streams to fund player wages, cover missing matchday income and to comply with the Joint Response Group protocols for a safe stadium environment through to the end of the 2020-21 campaign in May. So, work has to continue to develop our income streams, but we are thankful that the hard work has been rewarded and the immediate pressure on the club has been alleviated.
It has taken a tremendous effort from the Board during the year just ended and I thank my colleagues for their work in securing the future of the club. This work included setting a sustainable budget in the knowledge that football, if it could return, would do so with either an inevitable reduction in match income, or no match income at all.
Whilst we strongly believe we can provide a secure environment for the return of fans to Broadwood, we have to be realistic sadly, given the recent upsurge in cases caused by a new strain of the virus.
Most encouraging for us all, has been the loyalty of subscribers to the new 1877 Rewards scheme, as well as old and new club sponsors who have backed the club, enabling us to plan ahead with more confidence. Their support is and will remain critical and that support allows us to give Danny every support possible to achieve our medium-term aim of progressing to the next level.
Off the field, there have been a number of noteworthy developments.
The planned appointment of a Head of Football Operations was finally put in place to support and assist Danny with his player recruitment going forward. Graham Diamond has been working closely with Danny over recent months as they plan recruitment for the January window, and shaping the squad for next season, both with a positive budget.
The launch of a Digital Season Card, despite the uncertainty surrounding the 2020-21 season, was well received by Bully Wee fans. An extension to our cashless turnstiles, the card was designed to give holders the ultimate flexibility and has been used this season to purchase live match streams, club merchandise, ownership subscriptions, programme subscriptions and more. For those who have a balance remaining on their cards at the end of the current campaign, the value can be used towards a 2021-22 season ticket, or the balance refunded on request.
The introduction of the new live streaming service, provided by Pixellot for no fewer than 22 of the lower league clubs, was not without its teething troubles, as Pixellot sought to adjust to the urgent needs of its new customers. Thankfully progress has been made, with our own media team playing an active role in the ongoing improvement process for all clubs. Thanks at our end of the operations go to Graham Forrest and Andy Muir, and also to David Jack and John MacKinnon, the voices behind the pictures, who have received compliments from home and away fans in equal measure.
The club's representation on the two main football bodies in Scotland was secured when Gordon Thomson was appointed to the SPFL Board, as a representative for League 1 and 2.
2020 has been a desperate one for all, but none more so than a large number of those having strong connections with The Bully Wee. No fewer than 20 families have lost loved ones, whether they be former staff, players or fans of our club. The loss of young Robert Chebe on Tuesday was especially poignant. We should take time to remember all those below, a large number of whom will have been known to most Clyde fans.
John Donnelly, John Watson
Robert Donnelly, John Divers, David Hagen, Sam Hastings, Danny Masterton, Jim McLean, Dave Soutar
Tommy Barrie, John Briggs, Robert Chebe, Grace Donald, John Greenhorn, Ben Clark Jones, John Kincaid, Scott Macfarlane, Jack McGowan, Stan Park, Harry Stewart
Finally, a massive thank you to everyone that has supported the club over the past twelve months, including all of our volunteers. More than ever, the need for our fans to give generously through club ownership, season cards, Clyde Lottery, Bully Wee Fund, Christmas Raffle - not to mention the generous donations - has been vital to the health and wellbeing of our club.
As a club, we feel we are well placed to move forward in this new year and I hope we can all make that journey together.
From everyone at the club, including Danny, his backroom staff and players, it just remains to wish all of you a healthy, prosperous and most important of all a safe 2021.