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27 May 2020 : First video of our new pitch being watered

This is our new Speedy Rain sprinkler watering the seed on our newly installed Hybrid Carpet pitch (the green "grass" you can see is artificial) with water from our borehole.

26 May 2020 : Statement from the Board

On Thursday the Board voted on whether to retain the services of Michael Ellison as Manager of Runcorn Linnets FC. The outcome of that vote wasn't unanimous, but the majority view was that the relationship should not continue. It has been one of the hardest decisions to make during the lifetime of the club, as Ello has not only enjoyed great success during his time at the club, but he is a very popular figure with great drive and enthusiasm.

What follows is an explanation of the events that led to that decision.

Since the season was cut short, all members of the Board were involved in preparations for next season, and beyond, with a new three year plan that was created with accommodations for the new Hybrid Carpet pitch, along with the potential impact of the COVID19 pandemic. From this plan, a playing budget was determined and agreed by the Board. Whilst this budget was a decrease compared to last season, it was felt that it was necessary to take a prudent approach in these uncertain times.

This budget was presented to Ello by chairman Mike Bignall, around two weeks ago. In previous years this would have been done at a meeting with a number of Board members present, but with social distancing measures in place it was decided that it should be done as a conference call, but technical issues intervened to leave it as a one to one. Ello asked that there be a guarantee of his job security, and for time to think it over.

After a few days' consideration, Ello's response was that he couldn't work to the budget that was offered.

The plan had already incorporated everything that could reasonably be taken into account, and the budget had been set to be as generous as possible. It wasn't a negotiation position from which we could be talked up a little, it was simply the amount that could be afforded. In an attempt to make the budget more appealing, a number of conditional elements that couldn't be guaranteed to occur were offered to be locked in to facilitate a budget increase, i.e. if this happens, then the budget can be increased by that amount.

This revised budget plan was discussed with Ello early last week in a conversation that can only be described as heated, and emotional, and was ultimately ended by Ello putting the phone down. Mike explained the Board's position that they didn't feel that an unconditional guarantee of job security was something they could offer. During the call Ello expressed his lack of confidence in the Board along with his rejection of the revised offer. He also made it clear that if the offer were increased, but subsequently reduced, then he would resign. Following this, the Board were considering the prospects of having to find a new Management team as it felt it was only time before a resignation from Ello would be forthcoming.

The following day, via an intermediary, Ello indicated that he had a change of heart, and said he would work to the budget with the conditional elements. However, this left us in a situation where Ello had already threatened resignation, but had now agreed to a budget that he was evidently unhappy about and to work with a group, with which he had made it clear he had no confidence. Our concern was that should he not see the season out, whether that be between now and start of the season or at some point during the season, that would potentially leave the club in more jeopardy than moving on with a new management team. This view wasn't unanimous, but it was held by the majority, and so following a vote on whether to retain Ello's services or not, the conclusion was to let him go, and seek a new management team.

Mike Bignall called Ello to inform him of the Board's decision, and to Ello's credit he took the news well, and left on amicable terms. He said that he wanted to inform his staff himself, which is why contact wasn't made by the club, and it was agreed that the club's statement would be cleared by both parties prior to publication. As news started to surface on social media, it was felt by the club that a short statement would enable it to be agreed and published in short order. It was published as soon as that agreement was received.

23 May 2020 : Statement from Michael Ellison

Michael Ellison has released the following statement, originally via Twitter, and has given permission for it to be posted here...
Thank you

As you all know I'm not one for social media but felt I had to make a statement after recent events.

Firstly I'd like to thank the club for giving me the opportunity to cut my teeth in management, four years ago the club took a massive risk in appointing me and showed faith in me and I'd like to think that over the past four years I've repaid that faith and then some.

Over the past four seasons I've worked under four different chairman and although we haven't always seen eye to eye I'd like to think both of us have had the club's best interests at heart and over that period given the fans some memorable moments (too many to mention).

Although, I didn't agree with the decision made on Thursday night I respect it and have accepted it. I have no ill feeling towards any one person or persons at the club.

I'd like to thank my staff Crossy, Lawty, Gemma, Salty and Chris who have gone above and beyond what's been expected of them and for putting up with me. Without them none of the success we've had would have been possible.

I'd like to thank all the players who have worked under me over the past four seasons (too many to mention) especially those from the start who again showed faith in me and stood by the club at a difficult time.

Lastly to the fans who are undoubtedly the heartbeat of this football club. Although I do understand your frustrations and your right to express your views I feel it's important to remember that in this period of transition the most important thing is THE FOOTBALL CLUB.

Managers, chairman and board members will come and go but what must remain is the support for this great football club. Thank you for your unrivalled and continued support over the last ten years not only as a player but as a manager it's been emotional.

Take care and stay safe, Ello.

21 May 2020 : Linnets part company with manager, Michael Ellison

The Runcorn Linnets Board have decided not to continue the partnership between the club and the Management Team of Michael Ellison and Matthew Cross. Discussions regarding next season, and the future of the club revealed differences in approach that ultimately proved to be incompatible.

The club is very grateful to Ello, Crossy, and Lawty for their efforts as both players and Management Team, and we wish them every success in the future. Ello has been part of the furniture at the club for almost 10 years having joined as a player in 2011, and taking up the Manager's role upon the end of his playing career in 2016. Our Championship Season in 2018 is an obvious highlight for which he will always be fondly remembered.

The club will now look to start the recruitment process for a new Management Team, and details of this will be released in due course.

12 May 2020 : Everyone's a winner from our Virtual Matches

Now our Virtual Matches are over and the prize draw has taken place, we would again like to thank everyone who took part - and invite all participants to give themselves a big, collective pat on the back!

The prize winners are shown here but Runcorn Linnets can now exclusively reveal there will be a surprise free gift (something money simply can't buy!) for all our virtual spectators!!

The club is commissioning a limited edition pin badge - depicting the Runcorn Linnets "Subbuteo" player (who features on our web updates).

These badges will not be on general sale but we'll have a badge each for everyone, who paid 5 admission at the turnstile for one or more of the virtual matches.

These are unusual and difficult times for us all - so this is just a little thank you to those, who joined in the fun and entered into the spirit on the long, football-free Saturdays and sent some welcome funds our way.

We had 194 individual match admissions over the five virtual games.

With 73 cups of coffee, 69 pie and chips, 111 pints, 89 Goalden Goals, 96 half-time draws being sold (and 77 being dropped into Sue's virtual bucket) 1,866 was raised on the virtual matchdays.

Match sponsorship took the overall proceeds to around 2,200 - every penny welcome during this lockdown, when we have bills to pay on a vastly-reduced income and no opportunity to hold fundraising events such as our summer Beer Festival.

The prize draw took place over the weekend with all virtual fans receiving one entry for each admission through the virtual turnstile and every season ticket holder automatically getting five entries.

Prizes (and badges) will be issued once we are back playing again, hopefully in the not too distant future.

Through the expertise of Non-League PES (England), Dave Broom from Linnets TV and Jack Walsh (Runcorn Linnets FC Supporters Group), we were also able to bring you some computer-generated action from the virtual games.

This was certainly enjoyed and appreciated by online viewers. We will provide fans with news and details of further close-season initiatives along with the latest updates on our new Hero - the carpet hybrid pitch, which will be in place when football resumes at the Millbank Linnets Stadium

In the meantime, stay safe everyone and once again, many thanks for all your support.

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