Friday, 22 May 2020


Leigh Pomlett Determined to Keep the Club Alive Despite Coronavirus Crisis

Leigh Pomlett Determined to Keep the Club Alive Despite Coronavirus Crisis

As the EFL, Premier League, and FA continue to decide if, how and when the 2019/20 season should end Walsall chairman Leigh Pomlett has spoken to the media and insisted it was right for League Two clubs to vote to end their campaign now.
Speaking to the BBC's Samantha Meah, Leigh spoke extensively on the decision to end the season, how he believes the club will cope with the on-going coronavirus crisis, his hopes for the future and much more.

Appearing on BBC WM's Breakfast Show on Friday morning Leigh was first asked whether it was right for the club, along with its League Two peers,  to vote to end the current campaign, he started by setting out the various reasons to bring the season to an end.

He said; "(There are) three levels really. I think. The first one is to become Covid-19 compliant and secure is a huge amount of work, both the training ground and at the stadium.

"And the time we have to do that is limited and, you know, the primary concern I have is of the safety and health of the players, and then, of course, everybody else. But up at the training ground the players would have to be Covid secure.

"The second thing is the cost involved in doing that are significant. The third issue is I wanted a degree of certainty, we could go on like this 'will it, wont it end' for weeks and I'd rather have some certainty.

"So, along with the rest of the chairmen of the League Two clubs we said 'enough's enough', let's finish the season as equitably as we can and move on, frankly.

"So, it's driven by health, cost and certainty, in a world where there is no certainty really you try an impose some, frankly, and that's what we did lat Friday. It's the right decision and, providing we equitably end the season, which I think we will."

When asked about which measures he and the club have had to put in place in order to protect all club employees in the wake over Covid-19, Leigh replied; "When you think of a football club, think of it in terms of all of it's stake holders.

"All of the supporters, the players, the banks, the government, the EFL, the board, the chairman, the sponsors, so their's quite a lot of stakeholders in any football club, and the thing to do to protect everything is to get all of them lined up in support of what you're trying to achieve, which is, you know, we want a football club.

"The football club’s been around for 130 years, we’ve no intention of letting coronavirus end that. That depends on all those stakeholders stepping up to the mark, including chairmen, to make sure that we meet this coronavirus head on and come out the other side as strong as we possibly can."

Leigh was then asked whether there was a will amongst clubs to survive. He added; "Oh, huge, I mean I have been very, very pleased with the response of those stakeholders I just listed. The bank, frankly, have helped.

"Which has been great, but the supporters have been outstanding, particularly outstanding, but the players have made a contribution, all of the staff have made a contribution.

"The thing that I really wanted people to do was to step up to the mark and help the club through this crisis have really done so, and the supporters in particular have been really, really good, so I'm really pleased with the response of the club to the crisis. Make no mistake, this is a crisis, for all football clubs."

The chairman, who has made plenty of use of his home office over recent weeks was then asked how confident he can be that the club will come out of the crisis in decent shape, he replied; "We will, I am pretty confident.

"Why do I say that? Well, we've done our twelve month projections of finance and, you know, we need football to start really, I'd love for the season to start the football season properly.

"But we've left it as late as October for us to have football starting in some way, so our projections are based around that. And I am pretty confident, that's based around the financial projections that we've done and the support we've been able to get.

"Don't forget, the government has stepped up with furloughing, which has been very helpful in this crisis. So, I'm pretty confident. As I said, the football club has been going 130 years, I'm damned if I'm going to let it go under due to coronavirus, so we will do whatever it takes to make sure football is there for the future of the town, and I'm confident that it will be."

When asked about previous interviews where he had appeared to be fed up, Leigh admitted; "I'm fed up because I'm missing football, not fed up because I'm having to meet a challenge I never wished on anybody, frankly.

"So, fed up in the sense that I'm not able to go to the training ground, I'm not able to watch my team play, and that does, after two and a half month, make you a bit fed up, but in terms of the challenge, quite the opposite.

"I'm up for the challenge of the football club and I quite enjoy a crisis, I just wish it wasn't this particular one, so, I'm fine, as far as stress is concerned, I don't really do stress, otherwise, my advice to anybody out there is 'do not become a chairman of a football club.'"

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